Meniere’s disease is a condition that can cause various symptoms in the inner ear. These can include dizziness, ringing in the ears, a feeling of congestion in the ears and hearing loss. Symptoms tend to come and go in episodes called “drop attacks.” The regularity and frequency of these episodes can vary from person to person.
Meniere’s disease symptoms typically affect adults 40 to 60 years old.
Causes of Meniere’s Disease
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why some people get Meniere’s disease. Some common theories are that it stems from a viral infection, allergies, the body’s autoimmune response, circulation problems or migraine headaches. There may also be a genetic component to the disorder.
Similarly, various factors seem to be responsible for setting off a “drop attack” as well. In some people, such things as stress, fatigue, other illnesses, pressure changes and certain foods can spark an episode.
Beyond the symptoms related to the inner ear troubles, people with Meniere’s disease frequently suffer from other issues, as well. These can include nausea, vomiting, trembling, blurry vision, sweating, a rapid heartbeat, anxiety and fear. Some people continue to have symptoms between episodes as a result of the attacks.
There is no cure for Meniere’s disease, but treatment can help with the symptoms. Medications are often prescribed for the dizziness and other symptoms related to the episodes. Some people also have seen improvement by following a low-salt diet and using diuretics to reduce fluid retention in the body. Restricting other food components, such as caffeine, chocolate and alcohol, have also helped some.
A form of therapy called vestibular rehabilitation therapy can sometimes help people overcome their balance issues related to Meniere’s disease. And in more extreme cases, procedures and surgery that remove portions of the inner ear or specific nerves may be an option.
SOURCES: U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders; Vestibular Disorders Association