Ménière disease

Definition

Ménière disease is an inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing.

Causes

Your inner ear contains fluid-filled tubes called labyrinths. These tubes, along with a nerve in your skull, help you know the position of your body and help maintain your balance.

The exact cause of Ménière disease is unknown. It may occur when the pressure of the fluid in part of the inner ear gets too high.

In some cases, Ménière disease may be related to:

Other risk factors include:

Ménière disease is a fairly common disorder.

Symptoms

Attacks of Ménière disease often start without warning. They may occur daily or as rarely as once a year. The severity of each attack can vary.

Ménière disease usually has four main symptoms:

Severe vertigo is the symptom that causes the most problems. With vertigo, you feel as though you are spinning or moving, or that the world is spinning around you.

Hearing loss is often only in one ear, but it may affect both ears.

Other symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

A brain and nervous system exam may show problems with hearing, balance, or eye movement.

A hearing test will show the hearing loss that occurs with Ménière disease. Hearing may be near normal after an attack.

A caloric stimulation test checks your eye reflexes by warming and cooling the inner ear with water. Test results that are not in the normal range can be a sign of Ménière disease.

These tests may also be done to check for other causes of vertigo:

Treatment

There is no known cure for Ménière disease. However, lifestyle changes and some treatments can help relieve symptoms.

Your health care provider may suggest ways to reduce the amount of fluid in your body. This can often help control symptoms.

To help ease symptoms and stay safe:

Symptoms of Ménière disease can cause stress. Make healthy lifestyle choices to help you cope:

Help ease stress by using relaxation techniques, such as:

Ask your provider about other self-care measures.

Your provider may prescribe:

Other treatments that may be helpful include:

You may need ear surgery if your symptoms are severe and do not respond to other treatments.

Support Groups

These resources can provide more information on Ménière disease:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Ménière disease can often be controlled with treatment. Or, the condition may get better on its own. In some cases, Ménière disease can be (long-term) chronic or disabling.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have symptoms of Ménière disease, or if symptoms get worse. These include hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or dizziness.

Prevention

You can't prevent Ménière disease. Treating early symptoms right away may help prevent the condition from getting worse. Treating an ear infection and other related disorders may be helpful.


Review Date: 8/7/2017
Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, SUNY Stony Brook, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.