Meniere’s Disease

The inner ear is responsible for hearing and balance. Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that gives a big impact on a person’s hearing and balance.  Meniere’s disease is the main cause of vertigo, and may also lead to other hearing problems such as ringing in the ears. In most cases, Meniere’s disease usually affects only one ear. 


Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease

In most cases, Meniere’s disease symtoms manifest as “attacks” or “episodes”. These symptoms include:

   • Vertigo (episodes last from a few minutes to a full 24-hour cycle)
   • Nausea, vomiting and sweating (this is usually brought on by severe vertigo)
   • Headaches
   • Loss of hearing in the affected ear
   • Loss of balance
   • Aural fullness (feeling the ear is plugged)
   • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

If you are experiencing these symptoms two or three of the symptoms below at one time, you may have Meniere’s disease:

  • Hearing loss
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus
  • Aural fullness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Meniere’s disease is easily suspected or confused with another ear problem. In most cases, people with Meniere’s disease don’t go through any symptoms between episodes. A lot of those symptoms we mentioned above MAY occur during a period with no Meniere’s episodes. This is why Meniere’s disease is often confused for other inner ear problems, such as labyrinthitis.

Diagnosing Meniere’s Disease

If you are experiencing one or more symptoms of Meniere’s disease, you will be required to go through several tests to examine your hearing and balance. These tests also aim to rule out other causes of the symptoms, if there are any.

Hearing Test for Meniere’s Disease

If your primary symptom is hearing loss, the first test you need to take is an audiometry or hearing test. You’ll be asked to put on headphones and listen to noises at various volumes and pitches.

You will signal when you hear a certain sound or tone to determine if you have hearing loss,  to what extent, and if you can tell the difference between comparable sounds.

To check your inner ear, an electrocochleography (ECog) test needs to be carried out. Meanwhile, an auditory brainstem response (ABR) test examines the function of the hearing center in the brain and the function of the hearing nerves. An ECog and ABR help doctors determine if the problem is caused by the nerves of the ear or the inner ear.

Balance Test for Meniere’s disease

Balance tests are carried out to test the integrity of the inner ear. People with Meniere’s disease are expected to have lower balanced responses in the affected ear.

Electronystagmography (ENG) is the most common balance test used to detect Meniere’s disease. Electrodes will be placed around the eyes to detect eye movement. The balance response in the inner ear triggers eye movements, making it a good test to detect imbalances in the inner ear.

Other tests used to detect or rule out Meniere’s disease include MRI or cranial CT scan. These are more focused on the brain, to detect if there are brain tumors or multiple sclerosis, which can pose similar symptoms to Meniere’s disease.

Questions about  Meniere’s Disease

How common is Meniere’s Disease?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), there are an estimated 615,000 people in the United States with Meniere’s disease. People in their 40s and 50s are most likely to experience this condition.

Is Meniere’s Disease serious?

Meniere’s disease is chronic, which means that it may be life-long. However, there are various treatments and lifestyle changes that can help ease the symptoms.

A lot of people who are diagnosed with Meniere’s disease go into remission a few years after their diagnosis. So if you or a family member is diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, don’t be so worried about it. With the right treatment and partnership with a medical professional, Meniere’s disease can be won over.

Meniere’s disease may be more serious for older people because they are more prone to falls and injuries when dizzy episodes take place.

Let’s move forward – what causes Meniere’s disease?

As of writing, the cause of Meniere’s disease is still unknown. However, the majority of scientists and medical professionals believe that it might be triggered by changes in the fluid found in the tubes of the inner ear. Other triggering factors of meniere’s disease include genetics, allergies and autoimmune disease.

Why do people get Meniere’s Disease?

Up until now, there’s no clear reason or answer as to what causes Meniere’s disease. However, numerous researchers have been involved in trying to uncover the cause or causes of Meniere’s disease and what might affect the inner ear fluid.

The following instances may affect the body fluid in the inner ear:

•  Poor drainage due to abnormal structure or blockage in the ear
•  Allergic reaction
Autoimmune response
•  Genetics
•  Viral infection
•  Injury or concussion to the head

What foods trigger Meniere’s Disease?

Now that we know that Meniere’s disease has a lot of triggering factors, we’ll discuss certain foods that can trigger this condition.

Diet may play a big role in triggering or reducing the symptoms of Meniere’s diseases. If you have been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, you need to limit or exclude the following from your diet:

 • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
 • alcohol
 • salt
 • caffeine
 • chocolate

Try to steer clear of alcohol, junk food (chips), coffee, soft drinks and chocolate. As you can see, they are all triggers for Meniere’s disease, so can you just imagine how your body would react if you’re going to binge eat all those stuff?

We also advise drinking the needed number of glasses of water per day – so that’s six to eight glasses. This is to make sure that your body will not be retaining fluid which could trigger Meniere’s disease. Remember, Meniere’s disease is connected to the status of your body fluid.

Can stress cause Meniere’s Disease?

Aside from dietary changes, we also recommend lifestyle changes to help alleviate Meniere’s disease symptoms.

Rest during and after vertigo attacks. Eat healthy and regularly to help your body regulate fluids. 

As much as possible, you need to manage your reaction to stressful situations. Once you feel an unpleasant emotion or feel really stressed, Meniere’s disease symptoms may surface. You can manage stress and anxiety through meditation, therapy or medication.

Nicotine and allergies are also known to make Meniere’s symptoms worse. If you are a smoker, you might need to cut down on your cigarette intake to avoid triggering allergies and worsening your Meniere’s disease.

There’s also a study by Dona Kiossef published in AHA Journal that came to a conclusion that a patient with Meniere’s disease may exhibit irregular blood pressure during stress, even while taking hypertensive medications. It’s also worth noting that even after the stressor has disappeared, the blood pressure remained to be elevated and in some cases, continued to rise.

We don’t need to re-emphasize the importance of seeking medical attention to deal with Meniere’s disease.

What types of medications treat Meniere's Disease?

You may be prescribed medications to help you with vomiting, vertigo, and nausea. For these symptoms, doctors may prescribe you with an anti-nausea or antiemetic medication. Take note that there is no existing pharmaceutica drug that can treat Meniere’s disease. The drugs offered can only manage the symptoms.

Since Meniere’s disease has something to do with fluids in the inner ear, you may also be prescribed a diuretic to aid in reducing the amount of fluid in your body. Medications may also be injected into the inner ear via your middle ear to help ease vertigo symptoms.

A doctor may also give you steroids if it’s established that Meniere’s disease is triggered by an underlying immune system issue.

Does physical therapy help with Meniere's Disease?

Also known as vestibular rehabilitation, these exercises can improve symptoms of vertigo. With these exercises, your brain can be trained to account for the difference in balance between your ears.

Can hearing aids make a difference with Meniere's Disease?

When Meniere’s disease brings hearing loss, an audiologist is the best person to seek. At Hearing Health Center, we can manage hearing loss, whether it’s brought about by Meniere’s disease or any other trigger. 

If you have mild to moderate hearing loss because of Meniere’s disease, we believe that hearing aids can help. Hearing aids can significantly increase the amount of sounds you can hear.

If you are in Osseo, MN and would want to see an audiologist to deal with hearing loss brought about by Meniere’s disease, come see us for a hearing assessment and hearing aid fittings.

Will surgery cure Meniere's Disease?

Usually, people with Meniere’s disease don’t need surgery. However, surgery is an option for people who have suffered or are suffering from severe attacks or who haven’t had any success with other treatments.

Surgery for Meniere’s disease may include an endolymphatic sac procedure. This is done to help lower the production of fluid and facilitate fluid drainage in the inner ear.

Hearing Health Clinic, Osseo MN – Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is a progressive disease. This means that if left untreated, Meniere’s disease may get worse over time. 

Meniere’s disease may start mild and slow, with just an occasional hearing loss. As time passes, vertigo may develop. During vertigo episodes, try to lie down or sit in a comfortable position right away to avoid accidents or falls. Definitely don’t attempt to drive during a vertigo episode.

As Meniere’s disease progresses, the symptoms may also change. Tinnitus and hearing loss may become constant and you will just have to deal with these symptoms. Occasional bouts of vertigo may also arise in a period of time, for which you need to be always ready for.

Our take on Meniere’s disease is simple – while we acknowledge that there is no cure for this condition, we can offer many strategies to reduce your symptoms and make life easier for you. Dispose of the thought that Meniere’s disease may get better on its own. It will not.