Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes dizziness, hearing loss, ringing in the ear, and a feeling that your ear is stopped up:
- Dizziness (vertigo) is the most troublesome symptom for most patients. Attacks of vertigo (whirling or spinning) begin unexpectedly. These are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. A typical spell may last for hours at a time. A sense of fatigue or imbalance can continue long after the vertigo has subsided. The attacks of vertigo can come and go unpredictably.
- Hearing loss usually affects only one ear. In the early stages of Meniere's disease your hearing loss may be mild or it may fluctuate (getting better and worse on its own). In later stages, hearing loss may become severe and permanent.
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus) often occurs. In most cases, tinnitus is a by-product of the hearing loss. Many patients also experience pressure or fullness in their ears. Sometimes the pressure increases before or during a dizzy spell.
Meniere's disease is caused by an overproduction of fluid within your inner ear. Excessive fluid pressure interferes with the function of the hair cells located in that area. Sudden increases in pressure make your ear feel stopped up and cause vertigo.
Most cases of Meniere's disease have no known cause. On rare occasions, traumatic injury or an immune system disease may play a role in developing the disease.
The vertigo associated with Meniere's disease can usually be controlled with medications and dietary changes. If those measures do not work, you might obtain lasting relief from gentamicin injections. Surgery is an option when other measures fail.
We can help
The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City ranks among the top 20 hospitals in the United States for ear, nose, and throat services, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Mount Sinai Hearing and Balance Center has specialists in Meniere's disease. Please call us at 212-241-9410 to schedule an appointment.