By Denise DeWitt / EmpowHer Writer
Ménière's Disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and a sensation of fullness in the ears. Men and women are equally likely to get Ménière's disease and most who have it are over 40 years old. According to the National Institute on Hearing and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 615,000 people have been diagnosed with Ménière's Disease in the United States.
Ménière's Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of Ménière's disease often occur suddenly without notice, and may recur daily or as infrequently as once a year.
•Vertigo – this is the sensation that the room is spinning. Vertigo typically occurs without warning and may last from 20 minutes to over two hours. Severe vertigo may cause nausea and vomiting.
•Tinnitus – a ringing, roaring, or buzzing sound in the ear or head
•Hearing loss – during an attack, hearing may diminish or fluctuate in the affected ear. In most cases, hearing returns to normal after an episode. But over time, most patients with Ménière's disease experience some degree of permanent hearing loss
•Fullness in the ear – patients often report a sensation of fullness or pressure in the ear during and sometimes prior to a Ménière's attack.
Causes of Ménière's Disease
The balance center of the ear is located in a portion of the inner ear known as the labyrinth. This portion of the ear is filled with fluid called endolymph. The volume or amount of fluid in the labyrinth must remain at a constant level in order for the balance center to work correctly.
In Ménière's disease, this fluid level changes, which causes the balance center to malfunction. Many experts believe that Ménière's disease is caused when fluids from outside the membrane of the labyrinth are able to mix with the endolymph inside the labyrinth. When too much fluid is present inside the labyrinth, the membrane balloons or swells as pressure increases. In most patients, Ménière's disease starts in only one ear, but may extend to both ears over time.
Diagnosing Ménière's Disease