Ménière’s disease is a condition characterised by vertigo, low-pitched tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and progressive hearing loss.
The condition is unpredictable and affects people very differently. Hearing loss may be fluctuating and brief, or it may become permanent.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of Ménière’s disease often vary from person-to-person, and can occur suddenly. The disease often begins with one symptom before gradually progressing, and the duration and frequency of symptoms can differ.
Despite variations, there are four symptoms that are often associated with a typical case of Ménière’s disease:
- Vertigo, which can last anywhere from minutes to hours, and can induce nausea, vomiting and sweating.
- Progressive and fluctuating hearing loss either in one ear or both, usually in lower frequencies.
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- A sense of pressure in the ears.
What causes Ménière’s Disease?
The exact cause of the disease remains unknown, but scientists believe it is linked to a dysfunction of the endolymphatic sac (also known as the labyrinth) in the inner ear. The labyrinth is a tiny system of fluid-filled channels that send signals of sound and balance to the brain.
Do many people suffer from Ménière’s disease?
Approximately 12 out of every 1,000 people are affected by Ménière’s disease worldwide. The first symptoms usually occur in the adult years, between the ages of 30 and 60.
Management of Ménière’s disease
Although there is currently no cure for Ménière’s disease, there are various management options available to those affected.
- Dietary changes have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Sufferers may be advised to avoid salt, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.
- Prescription and over-the-counter medication can be used to treat Ménière’s disease and the symptoms associated with vertigo (dizziness and nausea). Speak to your doctor for advice.
- Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation and aromatherapy, can help sufferers cope with the stress caused by the unpredictable nature of the disease.
- If symptoms do not ease with non-invasive treatments, more permanent surgery can be considered to reduce inflammation and pressure in the inner ear.
- Physiotherapy can help sufferers regain balance and reduce dizziness.
Ménière’s disease and hearing loss
Hearing loss may come and go in the beginning stages of Ménière’s diease, but can become permanent in later stages. Hearing aids can help remedy the damage done by the disease, and can be an important part of the recovery process.
Recognise any of these symptoms? Make sure to see a doctor for advice.
If you have suffered hearing loss as a result of Ménière’s disease, contact Connect Hearing to discuss hearing aid options.