Meniere’s disease, also called endolymphatic hydrops, is a disorder of the inner ear that can affect people of all ages, especially those between 20-50 years old. Both men and women are equally at risk.
Cause of Meniere’s Disease
The exact cause of Meniere’s Disease is not known, but the symptoms are linked to an excess fluid in the inner ear.
Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
Prominent symptoms include dizziness, usually in the form of an intense and spinning sensation. In some cases, symptoms may also include nausea, vomiting, loss of balance and unsteadiness. The dizziness may last anywhere from minutes to hours. While experiencing the symptoms, patients should remain still and avoid any head movement as it may increase the dizziness.
Other symptoms may include the following:
- Hearing loss usually occurs in the initial stage, but it is temporary. The hearing becomes worse during an attack of dizziness, but often improves after that. However, if left untreated, the hearing will progressively worsen until it results in severe hearing impairment.
- Ringing in the ear and pressure in the ear may come and go in the initial stage. During attacks of dizziness, the symptoms usually get worse, but these become more persistent later in the disease.
Diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease
In diagnosing Meniere’s Disease
, the doctor will take into consideration the following:
- History of symptoms, including the form of dizziness, severity, duration, frequency and associated hearing problems
- Medical history, including previous illnesses or conditions, such as syphilis, mumps, conjunctivitis, immune disorder, allergy, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, neurological disorder and ear surgery
- Physical examination
- Ear, nose, throat and neurological examination
- Balance system
- Eye movement in different positions
- Additional tests:
- Hearing test (Audiogram)
- Test of the balance organ in the inner ear (Videoelectronystagmography: VNG)
- Fluid pressure test (Electrocochleography: ECOG)
- Neurologic test of auditory function (Evoke Response Audiometry)
- Test for balance (Posturography)
- Special X-Ray (to detect brain tumor of the nerve that carries balance information to the brain) including Computed Tomography (CT) Scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Treatment Options for Meniere’s Disease
- Transtympanic procedure: intratympanic dexamethasone injection, intratympanic gentamicin injection
- Surgery in severe cases where the symptoms cannot be controlled by medication
- Eat hygienic food from the five food groups
- Avoid salty food and limit salt intake
- Avoid coffee, chocolate and caffeine
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid tiredness and fatigue from excessive or extended working or exercising
- Avoid factors that can cause dizziness, such as stress
- People who experience dizziness without warning signs should avoid situations that can lead to accidents, such as driving or climbing