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Meniere’s disease is a condition which is caused by a disorder in the inner ear. The disease causes sudden episodes of dizziness, hearing loss, tinnitus, and a sense of pressure deep inside the ear. In general Meniere’s disease usually only affects one ear, but can also affect both.
Meniere’s disease may start presenting symptoms at any age, but most commonly the disease starts to occur between young and middle-aged adulthood. The disease is considered chronic with no definitive cures, but symptoms can be treated to minimize long-term impact to daily life.
Meniere’s disease attacks can cause one, several or all of the following symptoms:
- Spinning sensation and dizziness (vertigo)
- Unsteadiness in feet and a sense of disorientation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ringing, roaring or buzzing sounds in the ear
- Sudden loss of hearing
Symptoms most commonly appear at once and can last from minutes, up to two to three hours. Symptoms vary between individuals, but vertigo is almost always met together with hearing loss. Attacks causing the symptoms can happen as clusters or as reoccurring singular attacks. Attacks can happen daily, weekly, monthly, or there may be even months or years in between them.
Experiencing these symptoms should always lead to further medical examinations to aid diagnosis.
Reacting to a Meniere’s disease attack
Due to the possibility to loss of balance it is of utmost importance to sit or lay down securely.
After this, if a patient has prescribed medicine to treat some symptoms, these are administered. Keeping eyes closed or fixed on an object may help with vertigo. The head should not be moved suddenly. All movement should be done slowly and carefully to avoid falling and injuries.
There is no treatment that can cure Meniere’s disease definitively. However, symptoms like vertigo, nausea and vomiting can be medicinally relieved. Medicines used for these are usually prochlorperazine and antihistamines. The medicine is used to treat the symptoms of an attack as soon as symptoms appear. All medicinal use is to always be carefully reviewed with each individual patient by a medical practitioner.
Other symptoms like tinnitus and hearing loss are to be rehabilitated and treated by medical professionals. Patients also often benefit from support groups and counselling to manage emotional distress caused by the disease and its impact on life. Surgery is sometimes considered if all other treatment fails, but research to support surgery is inconclusive.
The exact causes of Meniere’s disease remain unknown but is associated with problems with pressure within the ear. Factors that have been thought to increase the risk of Meniere’s disease are poor fluid drainage in your ear, an immune system disorder, allergies, a viral infection, such as meningitis, a family history of the disease, head injury and migraines. Most likely the disease is caused by a multiplicity of factors.
Harcourt, J., Barraclough, K. & Bronstein, A. M. (2014). Meniere’s disease. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 349(nov12 9), g6544. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6544, (Accessed via https://www-bmj-com.pc124152.oulu.fi:9443/content/349/bmj.g6544 [23.04.2021])
Mayo Clinic staff, (2020) , Meniere’s disease, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menieres-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374910 [referenced 23.04.20201]
National Health Service (United Kingdom), (2020), Ménière's disease, NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menieres-disease/ [referenced 23.04.20201]
You can find more information abaout Meniere's disease in English VEDA's website. (Link to American Vestibular Disorders Association website)
Watch the video below for the first symptoms of Meniere disease and first visit to the doctor (link to Vimeo's external page for the video):