Meniere's Disease

Definition

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the labyrinth in the inner ear that causes vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing problems. The labyrinth is a system of cavities and canals in the inner ear that affects hearing, balance, and eye movement.
The Inner Ear
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Causes

The cause of Meniere's disease is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of factors. Possible causes include:
  • Rupture in part of the labyrinth, which allows fluid in different compartments to mix
  • Scar tissue, which may cause a blockage in the labyrinth
  • Inner ear injury

Risk Factors

Meniere's disease is more common in adults aged 20-60 years, and in Caucasians. Other factors that may increase your chance of Meniere's disease include:
  • Family history
  • Viral infection
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Barometric pressure change
  • Stress
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Allergies
  • Certain medications, such as antibiotics and chemotherapy agents
  • Excess salt in the diet
  • Excess noise

Symptoms

Meniere's disease may cause fluctuating symptoms, which may come on suddenly. They typically involve only one ear, but may involve both. Symptoms include:
  • Episodes of vertigo, a spinning sensation while standing still. Vertigo may be accompanied by:
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Sweating
    • Paleness of the skin
    • Weakness or falling
    • In some cases, headache or diarrhea
  • Fluctuating hearing loss
  • Ringing in one or both ears—tinnitus
  • Feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear
  • Poor sense of balance
  • A tendency for symptoms to worsen with movement

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