Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disease usually affecting 40-60 year olds in Hong Kong with a female predominance. Meniere’s disease often leads to hearing problems, tinnitus, dizziness and loss of balance that badly affect one’s quality of life. Therefore, we should pay attention to our ears’ condition.
The inner ear is responsible for hearing sensation and balance. Meniere’s disease is a chronic disease caused by increased fluid build up in the inner ear affecting the cochlea (hearing part) and the labyrinth (balance system). More commonly affecting one ear only. When Meniere’s disease interferes with the inner ear function, it leads to vertigo, hearing problems, tinnitus and gait imbalance.
Meniere’s disease is a disease of unknown aetiology. Both its causes and mechanism have not yet been fully discovered. In short, Meniere’s disease is related to the presence of extra fluid in the inner ear. Besides, heredity, immunity disorders and viral infections are possible causes of Meniere’s disease.
Although definitive causes of Meniere’s disease are not identified yet, risk factors leading to a higher risk of Meniere’s disease are recognized. Risk factors of Meniere’s disease include:
Like a seizure, the signs and symptoms of Meniere’s disease are not constantly present but episodic. Multiple signs and symptoms of Meniere’s disease shown below may occur at the same time during an episode.
An episode usually lasts for 20 minutes to 20 hours with multiple symptoms starting with blockage in one ear (hearing loss). Then the patient usually starts to have tinnitus. After some time (maybe 30 minutes to a few hours), the patient may start to have vertigo (feels the whole room spinning). Towards the end of the episode, the vertigo will stop, hearing loss and tinnitus will disappear and the patient’s hearing will go back to normal. With moderate to severe vertigo, patients may also have nausea and vomiting.
The frequency of Meniere’s disease attack is indefinite, varies from several times per week to once a year.
Meniere’s disease should be identified as early as possible and medical help should be sought right away. Otherwise, Meniere’s disease may result in further complications:
Upon observation of the clinical signs and symptoms of Meniere’s disease like vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus, more advanced tests will be required to confirm the diagnosis of Meniere’s disease:
Even though Meniere’s disease is incurable, this condition can be managed very well with the following approaches:
The most common trigger is a high salt meal. However, there are other possible factors that can trigger an attack of Meniere’s disease, such as viral infection, allergy, head trauma, migraines, smoking, anxiety, stress and medications.
Definitely not. In fact, most patients with Meniere’s disease lose hearing in one of the ears. Sometimes the hearing loss is transient. Moreover, the progression of hearing loss can be controlled by proper management.
Meniere’s disease gives episodic attacks. An episode usually lasts for 20 minutes to 20 hours with multiple symptoms usually with only one ear. The frequency of attacks is indefinite, ranging from several times a week to once a year.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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