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Meniere Disease

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What is Meniere disease?

Meniere disease is a condition that affects the canals of the inner ear. The inner ear helps you hear and maintain your balance. Too much fluid may be produced, or there may not be enough fluid properly absorbed back into the body. This causes swelling and increased pressure in your inner ear.

Ear Anatomy

What causes Meniere disease?

The cause is unknown. The following may increase your risk:

  • Age between 40 and 60 years
  • Smoking, or drinking too much alcohol
  • Certain foods and drinks, such as those with high amounts of salt or caffeine
  • Stress
  • Ear problems, viral infections, or migraines
  • Family history of Meniere disease

What are the signs and symptoms of Meniere disease?

Signs and symptoms may last from minutes to a few days:

  • A feeling that your ears are plugged, full, or have too much pressure
  • Hearing loss in one or both ears
  • Ringing, roaring, or buzzing in one or both ears
  • At least 2 episodes of vertigo (feeling that everything around you is moving, swirling, or spinning) that last longer than 20 minutes
  • Nausea, vomiting, and sweating

How is Meniere disease diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask what triggered your symptoms, when they started, and how long they lasted. He or she may also ask about your health history and medicines you take or have taken.

  • A physical exam will be done. Your healthcare provider may move your head in different directions. You may also be asked to do exercises that make you dizzy.
  • An auditory brainstem response (ABR) test is a series of clicks played through headsets on your ears. A machine is used to measure how your cochlea and nerves react to the clicks.
  • Blood tests may be done to give information about your overall health.
  • A CT or MRI scan may be taken of your head. You may be given contrast liquid before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see your inner ear better. Tell the provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Electronystagmography (ENG) is done to test for problems you may have with balance or dizziness. Sticky pads with wires are placed on the skin around your eyes. The wires are connected to a machine that records information during your ENG. Warm and cool air or water is put into your ears while your eye movements are recorded.

How is Meniere disease treated?

Treatment will depend on the condition causing your Meniere disease. The goal of treatment is to prevent, decrease, and manage your symptoms. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you rest and avoid certain activities. You may also need any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to relieve your symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and headache. Your healthcare provider may also inject antibiotics into your ears.
  • Surgery to correct certain problems in the ears may be done. This may include removing bone or cutting a nerve in your inner ear. Excess fluids may also be removed.
  • Vestibular and balance rehabilitation therapy (VBRT) is a form of exercise therapy. It may be used to help decrease your dizziness, improve your balance, and prevent injuries. It may be done in a center or at home. VBRT includes movement exercises while you sit or stand. These exercises will make you dizzy, but can also help your brain adapt to the triggers that cause your vertigo. Over time, this therapy may decrease the number of times you have vertigo and can help improve your balance.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You are vomiting and your antinausea medicine is not helping.
  • You have blood, pus, or fluid coming out of your ears.
  • You have dizzy spells that last longer than usual.
  • Your symptoms keep coming back or get worse.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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