Meniere's disease is a disorder of the labyrinth in the inner ear that causes vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing problems. The labyrinth is a system of cavities and canals in the inner ear that affects hearing, balance, and eye movement.
The Inner Ear
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The cause of Meniere's disease is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of factors. Possible causes include:
Meniere's disease is more common in adults aged 20-60 years, and in Caucasians. Other factors that may increase your risk of getting Meniere's disease include:
Meniere's disease may cause fluctuating symptoms, which may come on suddenly. They typically involve only one ear, but may involve both. Symptoms include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. This will include an examination of your ears and a neurologic exam to evaluate for possible nerve damage.
Tests may include:
There is no cure for Meniere's disease. Treatment focuses on managing your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include one or more of the following:
Dietary changes include:
Lifestyle changes include:
Your doctor may suggest specific vestibular exercises. These exercises use a series of eye, head, and body movements to get the body used to moving without dizziness. You may work with a physical therapist to learn these.
Consider working with a therapist or joining a support group. These can help you to cope with your symptoms.
Your doctor may recommend:
Ask your doctor if a Meniett device would be helpful to you. This device provides low-pressure pulses to the middle ear.
Surgical procedures are not always helpful, and include:
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
the College of Family Physicians of Canada
Meniere's disease. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/menieres-disease.html. Updated March 2014. Accessed August 18, 2014.
Meniere's disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 22, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2014.
Meniere's disease. National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/balance/Pages/meniere.aspx. Updated September 13, 2010. Accessed August 18, 2014.
12/3/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Hillier S, McDonnell M. Vestibular rehabilitation for unilateral peripheral vestibular dysfunction. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(10):CD005397.
Last reviewed August 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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