Ménière's Disease: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Ménière's disease is a condition characterized by the accumulation of fluids in the inner ear, leading to disruptions in the normal functioning of other organs and causing issues with hearing and balance. This article provides a comprehensive overview of what Ménière's disease is, its causes, symptoms, and appropriate treatment methods, covering all aspects of the condition in one concise introduction.
What is Ménière’s disease?
Ménière's disease is a condition where fluid accumulates near the cochlea in the inner ear, disrupting normal circulation and causing issues with hearing and balance.
As it interferes with the normal structure of the ear, the accumulated fluid progressively affects the cochlea and other vestibular organs, leading to worsening symptoms of Ménière's disease such as hearing loss and a loss of balance.
This, in turn, diminishes the quality of daily life.
Ménière’s disease Symptoms
If you seem to have the following four symptoms, it's advisable to visit a nearby otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) for a thorough examination.
However, the probability of developing Ménière's disease is quite low.
Moreover, Ménière's disease often occurs more frequently in individuals aged 40 and above.
Vertigo: Individuals with Ménière's disease often experience episodes of intense dizziness or vertigo. These episodes can range from a few minutes to several hours and are usually accompanied by a sensation of spinning.
Tinnitus: Persistent sounds like ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears (tinnitus) are prevalent in Ménière's disease. This is because the fluid-filled sac created by Ménière's disease can press on or interfere with the ear's organ responsible for maintaining balance, causing dizziness.
Hearing Loss: The condition is marked by fluctuating hearing loss, which may potentially become permanent over time. Initial hearing loss often involves lower frequencies. Unlike sensorineural hearing loss due to the degeneration of hair cells and nerves in the ear, Ménière's disease results in hearing loss with a physical cause, often affecting the ability to hear low-frequency sounds.
Aural Fullness: Some individuals with Ménière's disease describe a sense of fullness or pressure in the affected ear. Naturally, the presence of an abnormal sac in the ear can cause discomfort and a feeling of fullness, pressing on other ear tissues.
In addition to these four symptoms, headaches, abdominal pain, and nausea may also occur.
This is because the tissues responsible for the sense of balance in the ear are not functioning properly, leading to a sensation of dizziness.
Ménière’s disease Causes
Ménière's disease not only has a low prevalence among patients but also remains poorly understood in terms of its precise etiology, often being associated with other mechanisms such as autoimmune factors.
As a result, the exact cause of its onset has yet to be identified.
However, the following conditions are considered to be predisposing factors that make the occurrence of Ménière's disease more likely.
- Genetic Factors: If there is a person in the family who has Ménière's disease, there may be a genetic influence. Genetic predisposition can elevate the likelihood of developing this condition.
- Age: Ménière's disease tends to occur more frequently in individuals aged 40 and above. As age advances, structural changes and functional decline in the inner ear may be associated with the onset of this disease.
- Gender: Research suggests that women may be more susceptible to Ménière's disease than men.
- Fluid Abnormalities: If there is an accumulation of fluid in the inner ear or changes in the composition of the fluid, the likelihood of developing Ménière's disease may increase.
- Viral Infections: Some studies propose a potential association between viral infections, especially influenza and herpes viruses, and Ménière's disease.
- Autoimmune Diseases: Certain autoimmune diseases may be linked to Ménière's disease.
- Excessive Noise Exposure: Prolonged exposure to high-volume noise can be a trigger for Ménière's disease.
Ménière’s disease Home Remedy : Is it possible?
Ménière's disease is not a condition characterized by temporary fluid accumulation in the ear, and without medical intervention, it is challenging to revert to the previous state.
While taking rest at home may provide temporary relief,
Ménière's disease is a condition prone to frequent recurrence, necessitating specialized medical assistance.
Ménière’s disease Treatment
Treating Ménière's disease essentially involves eliminating the fluid-filled sac that presses on and interferes with other tissues inside the ear.
To achieve this, initial attempts are made with medication.
- Diuretics: These medications artificially facilitate fluid expulsion from the human body. If effective, this process can lead to the expulsion of fluid from the inner ear. However, Ménière's disease often does not see significant improvement at this stage.
- Antihistamines: If the accumulation of fluid is suspected to be related to allergies or immune reactions, healthcare professionals may prescribe antihistamines.
- Steroid Injections: This involves injecting steroids directly into the inner ear.
- Antiemetics: Since Ménière's disease often induces severe vertigo in most patients, making daily life challenging, healthcare providers may prescribe antiemetics alongside other treatments to help patients manage dizziness.
Physical therapies are also available. One method involves applying pressure to the inner ear through a device to safely remove the fluid sac.
If these measures prove ineffective, surgical interventions may be necessary.
- Endolymphatic Sac Decompression: This surgery involves creating a hole in the fluid-filled sac to drain the liquid. This procedure, often using a stent to extract the fluid, is one of the most common surgical treatments for Ménière's disease. It mimics the principle of draining pus in medical procedures.
- Vestibular nerve section: Your vestibular nerve helps regulate balance and hearing. Removing the nerve helps with vertigo and reduces hearing loss.
- Labyrinthectomy: This surgery removes your labyrinth, the part of your inner ear that controls balance. Providers typically do this surgery only after you’ve lost hearing in your affected ear.