Meniere’s disease is a fairly common inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing.

Your inner ear contains fluid-filled tubes called labyrinths. These tubes help you know the position of your body and help maintain your balance.

The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown. Experts agree there is a relationship between buildup of inner ear fluid and pressure within the compartments of the inner ear. However, they do not agree on why this happens.

Meniere’s Disease Symptoms

Attacks of Meniere’s disease often start without warning. They may occur daily or as rarely as once a year. The severity of the attack can vary.

Meniere’s disease usually has 4 main symptoms:

  • Hearing loss in one ear
  • Aural fullness (fullness or pressure in the ear)
  • Increased tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • Vertigo, or dizziness

Meniere’s Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based primarily on a patient’s report of repeated episodes of symptoms and may include hearing tests.

In early stages of the disease, exams between episodes can be completely normal. As the disease progresses, exams may show hearing loss and reduced sensitivity in the affected ear.

Meniere’s Disease Treatment

There is no known cure for Meniere’s disease, however, lifestyle changes and some treatments can help relieve symptoms. An ENT doctor who specializes in diseases of the ears (otologist), can best manage Meniere’s disease. Treatments may include:

  • A salt-restricted diet and/or use of a diuretic (to reduce fluid retention)
  • Vestibular suppressant medications to reduce the intensity of vertigo and nausea
  • Surgery
  • Chemical ablative procedures (antibiotic injections in the ear )
  • Low-dose steroids may provide relief without ablation