Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is considered a progressive disease (it has the propensity to worsen over time) that affects the inner ear. It is difficult to diagnose but physicians will look for the presence of 3 symptoms: episodes of vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and fluctuating hearing loss (where the ear feels really full and you don’t hear well). These symptoms occur together.

The symptoms occur as a result of an overproduction and build up of fluid within the compartments of the inner ear. This build up causes an overstimulation of that system and can compress the structures of the inner ear, thereby causing damage over time.

There is no definitive test to diagnose Meniere’s disease. Treatment primarily involves trying to manage the amount of fluid within the system. Limiting salt in dietary intake and use of diuretics is often what is first attempted as course of treatment.

If the disease progresses to the point that the “attacks” or episodes of symptoms are coming very frequently and are affecting a person’s daily life significantly, interventions that decrease the ability of the system to be stimulated may be necessary.

These include:

  • Gentamicin injection-this is an antibiotic that is toxic to the ear causing the sensory structures that receive and send the information of the inner ear to be affected and no longer be able to transmit this information an thereby decrease a patient’s symptoms
  • Surgery may be performed to the soft membrane around the system to relieve pressure or to cut the vestibular nerve to stop the transmission of this faulty information.
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