Overview

Meniere's disease is an inner ear problem that can cause dizzy spells, also called vertigo, and hearing loss. Most of the time, Meniere's disease affects only one ear.

Meniere's disease can happen at any age. But it usually starts between the ages of 40 to 60. It's thought to be a lifelong condition. But some treatments can help ease symptoms and lessen how it affects your life long-term.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Meniere's disease include:

  • Regular dizzy spells. You have a spinning feeling that starts and stops suddenly. Vertigo may start without warning. It usually lasts 20 minutes to 12 hours, but not more than 24 hours. Serious vertigo can cause nausea.
  • Hearing loss. Hearing loss in Meniere's disease may come and go, especially early on. Over time, hearing loss can be long-lasting and not get better.
  • Ringing in the ear. Ringing in the ear is called tinnitus. Tinnitus is the term for when you have a ringing, buzzing, roaring, whistling or hissing sound in your ear.
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear. People with Meniere's disease often feel pressure in the ear. This is called aural fullness.

After a vertigo attack, symptoms get better and might go away for a while. Over time, how many vertigo attacks you have may lessen.

When to see a doctor

See your health care provider if you have symptoms of Meniere's disease. Other illnesses can cause these problems. So, it's important to find out what's causing your symptoms as soon as possible.

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Causes

The cause of Meniere's disease isn't known. Symptoms of Meniere's disease may be due to extra fluid in the inner ear called endolymph. But it isn't clear what causes this fluid to build up in the inner ear.

Issues that affect the fluid, which might lead to Meniere's disease, include:

  • Poor fluid drainage. This may be due to a blockage or irregular ear shape.
  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Viral infection.
  • Genetics.

Because no single cause has been found, Meniere's disease likely has a combination of causes.

Complications

The most difficult complications of Meniere's disease can be:

  • Unexpected vertigo attacks.
  • Possibly losing your hearing long-term.

The disease can happen at any time. This can cause worry and stress.

Vertigo can cause you to lose balance. This can increase your risk of falls and accidents.

Dec. 30, 2022
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  4. Ménière's disease. Vestibular Disorders Association. https://vestibular.org/article/diagnosis-treatment/types-of-vestibular-disorders/menieres-disease. Accessed Sept. 6, 2022.
  5. Ménière's disease. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/menieres-disease. Accessed Sept. 6, 2022.
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