Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause debilitating episodes of vertigo and even hearing loss. The condition is most prevalent among adults between the ages of 20 and 50 years. Even though the condition in chronic, various treatments can minimize the symptoms and improve the quality of life.
It is believed that Ménière’s disease is caused by an abnormality in the inner ear. The condition typically only affects one ear; however, approximately 15 percent of patients are affected in both ears. Ménière’s disease appears to affect women more frequently. There is recent strong evidence from research done at the University of California Irvine that Ménière’s disease is primarily caused by a migraine problem which secondarily affects the inner ear.
You may be at a higher risk for Ménière’s disease if you have any of the following:
Ménière’s disease attacks can come on suddenly and last from a few hours to a few days. Most individuals with the condition experience episodic attacks for a number of years. During a Ménière’s episode, a person may experience the following symptoms:
Each Ménière’s disease attack can cause damage to the inner ear. Over time, the damage may result in balance problems or permanent hearing loss.
Various tests are available to assess hearing and balance functions and exclude other possible causes of the attacks:
A neurotologistcan help you choose from a number of different treatments, including:
A very small number of patients may require surgery. This is generally only recommended if the symptoms are disabling and cannot be relieved with conservative measures including medication and injections.