Hearing Concerns

Menieres Disease

Meniere’s disease is a chronic disorder of the inner ear that is linked to problems with balance and hearing. There is no known cure for Meniere’s disease but various treatment approaches are available to help manage symptoms.

How common is Meniere's disease?

Based on statistical data, Meniere’s disease affects one out of every 20,000 people. This condition usually manifests in adulthood, specifically between the ages of 20-50 years old. Meniere’s disease may manifest with the onset of vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, or pressure in the head that is accompanied by pain or discomfort.

Many cases of Meniere’s disease only have one ear affected. Hearing loss linked to Meniere’s disease could become permanent if left untreated.

Meniere's Disease Causes

Meniere’s disease was named after the French physician who discovered the condition in the 1860s, Prosper Meniere. It has been centuries since Meniere’s disease was discovered but up until now, medical professionals are still trying to pinpoint the exact causes and triggers of this condition.

Diagnosis of Meniere’s disease can be tricky and would need a battery of tests to rule out any other medical condition. One of the most noted triggers of Meniere’s disease is the fluid buildup in the inner ear called the labyrinth. The labyrinth houses the part of the ear responsible for hearing and balance. When excess fluid enters the labyrinth, signals sent to the brain may be distorted which could cause vertigo and other hearing problems like hearing loss or tinnitus.

Other causes linked to Meniere’s disease include – 

  • Viral infection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Poor ear drainage (caused by a blockage or abnormal ear anatomy)
  • Autoimmune response 
  • Inherited tendency
  • Concussion or head trauma
  • Migraine headaches
Can stress, anxiety, and emotions trigger Meniere’s disease?

Aside from physiological triggers, emotional or mental triggers are also suspected to trigger Meniere’s disease. However, further research and information is needed on this concept because it is still unclear if stress and anxiety could trigger Meniere’s disease or if it is the other way around. Either way, it’s safe to say that managing stress and anxiety could help reduce the intensity of symptoms.

Meniere's Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of Meniere’s disease are similar to symptoms linked to other hearing problems. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurry vision
  • Tremors
  • Nausea or diarrhea
  • Cold sweat and rapid pulse
  • Headaches

Vertigo episodes can last for 20 minutes to 24 hours or more. Most cases of vertigo last about 10-12 hours after the initial onset. However, the frequency and severity of vertigo linked to Meniere’s disease are different for each patient. 

As Meniere’s disease progresses, so do the symptoms. Tinnitus and hearing loss can become permanent and issues with balance and vision may also manifest. Since the symptoms of Meniere’s disease can overlap with other medical conditions, it’s important to schedule a consultation with a medical professional right away.

What are the stages of Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease has various phases – an aura, the early stage, attack stage, in-between stage, and late stage.

Diagnosing Meniere's Disease

The following are some diagnostic tests that will be carried out to check out balance and hearing problems related to Meniere’s disease:

Audiometric exam

Also known as a hearing test, an audiometric exam provides a thorough evaluation of a person’s hearing sensitivity. An audiometer is used to assess the hearing sensitivity at various frequencies. 

Electronystagmography

This diagnostic test is used to record involuntary movements of the eye caused by nystagmus. Electronystagmography can also be performed to diagnose the cause of dizziness, vertigo, or other balance dysfunction.

Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMPs)

VEMPs are tiny electrical signals produced by the small muscles surrounding and protecting the sensory organs in the inner ear. This painless test can assess and diagnose balance disorders.

Auditory Brainstem Response

This test monitors how the brain stem responds to sounds. It can also determine what part of the inner ear is more functional for hearing and how a patient can hear different types of sounds. The Auditory Brainstem Response test is commonly used for patients who can’t have other types of hearing tests (like infants and children) or who are discouraged to have imaging tests because of an existing medical condition.

CT Scans or MRI

Doctors may also recommend further tests like an MRI or CT scan to rule out any other condition that might be causing Meniere’s disease.

The search for the exact cause of Meniere’s disease still continues, with various medical professionals all over the world still in pursuit of finding out the exact trigger of this potentially-debilitating medical condition.

What’s the difference between vertigo and Meniere’s disease?

With vertigo, quick movements like sitting up, turning around, or turning over in bed can trigger episodes. Vertigo is a symptom of Meniere’s disease so the symptoms are quite similar. Meniere’s disease can manifest as a sudden episode of vertigo that may last for several hours.

Meniere's Disease Treatment

With the right diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment plan, Meniere’s disease can be successfully treated and managed. Fort Bend Hearing offers personalized solutions to ensure that our patients are receiving the best appropriate treatment for Meniere’s disease.

Oral medications

When we say oral medications, these are not to cure Meniere’s disease but rather to treat the symptoms that come with the condition. There are medicines that can control and prevent vertigo symptoms to help with dizziness, vomiting, and motion sickness.

Diuretics

Since excess fluid accumulation in the ears can trigger Meniere’s disease, lowering the amount of salt in the diet and using diuretics may reduce fluid accumulation and lessen the frequency and intensity of the symptoms. 

Controlling Hunger and Cravings

People with Meniere’s disease are recommended to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Eating a low sodium diet is recommended to avoid fluid retention that can make symptoms worse in the inner ear.

Steroids

Steroids can be prescribed to reduce the inflammation in and around the middle ear. Some medical practitioners believe that steroids are one of the best treatment approaches for Meniere’s disease, especially if there is an underlying immune system problem that is linked to the condition.

Getting treatment for Meniere’s disease is essential to avoid worsening the symptoms or developing complications. Untreated Meniere’s disease could be detrimental to one’s physical and mental health.

Meniere's Disease Therapies

Physical therapy

Management of Meniere’s disease can be successful with the right treatment plan. This includes medication and therapy. Guidance from medical professionals who specialize in vestibular disorders can make a big difference in a patient diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. Physical therapy can help patients who are experiencing visual blurring, imbalance, and dizziness. PTs can help with balance and gaze stability exercises.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy

VRT is recommended for patients who develop balance problems due to a lack of sensory input. With vestibular rehabilitation therapy, a customized treatment plan will be provided to target conditioning the part of the brain that needs extra focus on sensory feedback.

Positive pressure therapy (Meniett device)

Positive pressure therapy makes use of a Meniett device (name taken from Meniere’s disease). The device is designed to apply pressure on the ear canal which is expected to help improve fluid movements in the ear and help restore normal function faster. Patients suffering from hearing loss and vertigo can benefit from this type of therapy.

Surgery

When any of the treatments mentioned above don’t seem to bring an improvement to Meniere’s disease, surgery may be recommended. Surgeries for Meniere’s disease include cochleo sacculotomy, labyrinthectomy, endolymphatic sac shunt surgery, and vestibular nerve sectioning.

Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Fort Bend Hearing Clinic - Sugar Land, Texas

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. We have an expert team of audiologists trained to diagnose and treat Meniere’s disease and related hearing problems.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!