Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder related to a condition called endolymphatic hydrops (excess fluid in the inner ear), which can affect one’s hearing and balance. Meniere’s disease usually involves one ear but in up to 25% of patients, both ears can be affected. Not everyone with Meniere’s disease experience the same symptoms. Excess fluid leads to high pressures in the inner ear, which can cause any or all of the following symptoms:
- Ear fullness
- Tinnitus (ringing or roaring sound in the ears)
- Vertigo spells (sensation of spinning or dizziness) usually lasting for hours
- Fluctuating hearing loss
Vertigo attacks can be severe enough to cause nausea and vomiting. Patients can also have “drop attacks”. Patients often feel tired, “foggy headed”, drowsy, and confused after an episode of vertigo.
In order to diagnose Meniere’s Disease, your doctor will take a detailed history of the frequency, duration, severity, and character of your symptoms. Additional tests can help support a diagnosis of Meniere’s disease or eliminate other causes of your symptoms, but there is no definitive test for Meniere’s disease. Meniere’s disease may be related to allergies, migraines, autoimmune disorders, prior head injury, or prior ear infections. In many cases, the exact cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown.