Are you experiencing hearing loss, dizziness and/or ringing in one ear? This could be Meniere’s disease.

Typically affecting just one ear, Meniere’s disease is classified as a chronic condition; however, proper treatment and possibly even a few lifestyle changes can help you manage the symptoms.

Boots Hearingcare takes a look at the ins and outs of Meniere’s disease, including how best to handle its effects and maintain a good quality of life…

Meniere’s disease symptoms

People between the ages of 20 and 60 are particularly susceptible to Meniere’s disease. Knowing how to identify Meniere’s disease symptoms can help you act early, and early intervention can be vital to protecting your hearing health later.

Common signs of Meniere’s disease include:
  • Feeling pressure in the ear
  • Sudden dizzy spells (vertigo)
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • Muffled hearing or hearing loss
Although Meniere’s disease usually only affects one ear, there is the possibility of it being spread to both over time. Bouts generally last between a few minutes and a few hours; however, it can take days for symptoms to fade completely. Expect to feel tired immediately following an episode.

It’s equally important to remember that people with Meniere’s disease are often affected in different ways; yes, episodes may happen on a regular basis, but they can also be days, weeks or even years apart.

Meniere’s disease diagnosis

Meniere’s disease symptoms have an abrupt onset, but actual severity varies from person to person.
  • Stage 1: Unexpected episodes of vertigo, sometimes lasting up to a whole day; partial hearing loss, typically abating after each episode; the beginnings of tinnitus.
  • Stage 2: Lessening of vertigo, but hearing loss and tinnitus becoming more pronounced; sufferers experience a ‘remission’ from symptoms, which can last as long as several months.
  • Stage 3: Vertigo bouts even more uncommon, but tinnitus and hearing loss getting steadily worse; balance issues.
No matter what stage of Meniere’s disease you’re diagnosed with, it’s important that you seek medical treatment immediately. A doctor or hearing specialist such as one of the audiologists here at Boots Hearingcare will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your case.

Meniere’s disease causes

No one knows exactly what causes Meniere's disease. It’s linked to having excess fluid in the inner ear, although medical professionals can’t confirm this for certain.

Because it has no concrete, identifiable cause, Meniere’s disease is thought to be brought on by a range of factors, including:
  • Fluid not draining from the ear properly
  • Allergies
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Migraines
  • Injury to the head or ear
  • Viral infection
  • Autoimmune complications
If any of the above apply to you and you’re exhibiting symptoms of Meniere’s disease, visit your GP for a firm diagnosis.

Treatment for Meniere’s disease

Meniere’s disease currently has no cure, but there are treatment options to manage symptoms, such as:
  • Medication – typically to provide relief from dizziness and vertigo
  • Injections – if symptoms are particularly troublesome
  • Therapy – counselling, cognitive behavioural, or relaxation (support groups are great too)
  • Surgery – normally only in severe cases
Your GP will be able to suggest the best treatment for your Meniere’s disease.

Frequently asked questions

Is Meniere’s disease hereditary?
Meniere’s disease cases are often sporadic, meaning they occur in people with no family history of the disorder. Nevertheless, genetic predisposition plays an important role regarding individual susceptibility.
Does Meniere’s disease link to tinnitus?
Sufferers of Meniere’s disease often report tinnitus as one of their chief symptoms, usually described as a high-pitched ringing, buzzing or whistling sound in the ears.
Does Meniere’s disease affect driving?
By law, you as a driver must inform the DVLA and your vehicle insurer if you suffer from Meniere’s disease. The condition involves sudden attacks that can happen at any time, and while on the road, this constitutes a significant risk to yourself and others. Such debilitating attacks do not affect everyone, though, so there may not be need for any changes to your licence.

Avoid driving altogether if you feel a vertigo or dizziness attack coming on.
Does Meniere’s disease clear up by itself?
Meniere’s disease, as a chronic condition, will not go away on its own. After a confirmed diagnosis, you should seek treatment recommended by your GP or other qualified medical professional.
What lifestyle changes should you make if you’re diagnosed with Meniere’s disease?
Despite a lack of supporting evidence, many Meniere’s disease patients cite various lifestyle changes as helping to manage their symptoms. These include cutting down on alcohol, salt, and caffeine, as well as stopping smoking.
Can you fly with Meniere’s disease?
Most people who have Meniere’s disease experience no difficulty with flying, and many even report feeling better for the experience. If you’re nervous about the possibility of a vertigo attack, get an aisle seat; it’s farthest from the view, which can be disorienting.
What are some common Meniere’s disease triggers?
While Meniere’s disease may have no exact cause, there are still many potential triggers. A few of these include:
  • Injury to the head or ear
  • Migraines
  • Ear infection
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Pre-existing autoimmune issues

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