Ménière’s Disease

Ménière’s disease (MD), also called endolymphatic hydrops, is a disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes of severe dizziness, a “roaring” type of ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear. The episodes can last from 1 to several hours. Often, the person feels the aura of it coming on, much like one does who experiences seizures. The rotary vertigo symptoms can sometimes be completely debilitating. MD can become a serious health condition that disrupts one’s social, family, and working life.

Those with symptoms like these should consult a physician and get a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat physician. MD is thought to be caused by having too much fluid inside the inner ear or cochlea. The excess fluid buildup might be due to excess cochlear fluid production or not enough natural absorption of cochlear fluids. The exact cause of MD is not known, although allergies or some other type of autoimmune disorder might be the cause. People can have MD in one ear or both ears. Treatment is often in the form of a generalized low salt diet and water pills, also known as “diuretics.” Sometimes anti-vertigo medications are prescribed as well.

After seeking medical help, some people believe that hearing loss treatments, such as hearing aids, are of little help for those with MD. However, technological improvements in hearing aids, coupled with professional support, can aid those with MD by making everyday sounds clearer and even reducing the perception of tinnitus. The first step is to work with a qualified audiologist who has experience treating those with MD. The process is not always simple, but the rewards of improved hearing are significant for the patient and their family and friends.

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