What is Meniere's disease?
Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear, causing episodes of:
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear
- Fluctuating hearing loss
A typical symptom of Meniere's disease is fullness in one ear. Hearing fluctuation or changes in tinnitus may also lead to an attack. A Meniere's episode generally involves severe vertigo (spinning), imbalance, nausea and vomiting. The average attack lasts two-to-four hours. Following a severe attack, most people find that they are exhausted and must sleep for several hours.
Meniere's episodes may occur in clusters; that is, several attacks may occur within a short period of time. However, years may pass between episodes. Between the attacks, most people are free of symptoms or note mild imbalance and tinnitus.
Meniere's disease affects around 0.2% of the population. It usually starts in one ear but it often extends to involve both ears over time.Hearing loss and Meniere's disease
In most cases, a progressive hearing loss occurs in the affected ear(s). A low-frequency sensorineural hearing loss is common. Over time, it can change into either a flat loss or affect the high frequencies.
As a consequence of long-term Meniere's disease, permanent tinnitus, re-occurring imbalance or a hearing loss may occur. Hearing aids may be necessary.