What is Ménière’s Disease?

Cancer of the Ear

Ménière’s disease is named after the French physician Prosper Ménière who first described this condition. It occurs in 1:1000 and 1:2000 of the population and can affect any age or sex. That being said, around 10 percent of those who have Ménière’s have a family history of this condition. In the United States, the National Institute in Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reported that there are 45,500 new cases of Ménière’s disease yearly. Even though the causes of the disorder are still unidentified, factors such as pressure build-up of the fluid in the endolymphatic sac and allergens are considered to be playing a role in the progression of the disease.

Symptoms of Ménière’s Disease

The symptoms of Ménière’s disease differ from person-to-person. There are symptoms that manifest all of a sudden, although the prevalence and time span vary. According to The New York Times, the disorder has four main symptoms: hearing loss, nausea, tinnitus and vertigo.

  • Hearing Loss

Loss of hearing is a typical symptom of the disease. Usually, hearing loss occurs in the affected ear, although there are people who suffer hearing loss in both ears. In general, this symptom only happens temporarily, but it can be permanent over time.

Hearing loss can be treated by withdrawing some of the fluid in the tubes of the affected ear. In addition, diuretic medications and avoiding salty food and caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are suggested.

  • Nausea

Nausea comes along with dizziness. Those who have Ménière’s disease will feel sick to their stomach and may vomit. Even if nausea goes hand in hand with dizziness (which leads to vertigo), there is a possibility that only one symptom will be experienced by people who suffer from this condition.

  • Tinnitus

Tinnitus is described with “ringing, hissing, roaring, bussing, or whistling sounds” in the ear. This symptom causes discomfort and distraction, and experienced by people in varying severity and frequency. There are times that the symptom will attack and come with vertigo, hearing loss or a mixture of other symptoms.

  • Vertigo

Vertigo is characterized with a spinning or whirling sensation and can occur with severe nausea and vomiting. Vertigo is different from dizziness. The former is much problematic while the latter is more of lightheadedness.

People with Ménière’s disease can experience other signs and symptoms such as uncontrolled eye movements, diarrhea, cold sweats, feelings of fatigue, extreme mood changes and migraines.

Treating Ménière’s Disease

As of now, the disease in incurable; however, there are some treatments and lifestyle changes that can assuage the symptoms.

For long-term management of the disorder, a low-sodium diet is suggested. There are also prescriptions and medications available in controlling vertigo and other symptoms. Progressive muscle relaxation, Yoga and regular exercise can aid in distressing yourself.