What is Meniere’s Disease?

Meniere’s disease is a rare inner ear disorder characterized by a change in the volume of fluid (endolymph) present within the inner ear. This change in the volume of endolymph gives rise to symptoms like tinnitus, dizziness, vertigo and various other symptoms.

The disease generally affects one ear in the beginning but gradually (after about thirty years) develops in the other ear as well. Maniere’s disease tends to improve on its own after several years. However, in some cases it may cause progressive hearing loss, whether partial or total.

The exact cause of developing chronic Meniere’s disease or syndrome is not known. Though, viral infections of the inner ear, allergies, head injuries, hydrops, autoimmune diseases and certain hereditary factors have been known to increase the risk of developing Menieres disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Meniere’s disease

Unpredictable Vertigo or sudden loss of equilibrium is the most troublesome symptom of Manieres disease. The patient tends to feel pressure or a sense of fullness in the affected ear before the attacks. Attacks of Meniere’s disease usually last for about two to four hours, on an average.

Other common yet equally debilitating symptoms of Meniere’s disease are dizziness, tinnitus, disequilibrium, nausea, vomiting etc. The patient may complain of increased sensitivity to loud sounds and fluctuating episodes of temporary hearing loss.

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However, the disease may eventually increase the risk of permanent deafness in severe cases. The symptoms generally come in cycles lasting for several months and then subside.

Dealing with Meniere’s disease

There is no particular test for evaluating Meniere’s disease accurately. Still, tests like detailed otolaryngological examination, auditory brain stem response, CT scans, MRIs and the patient’s medical history help to diagnose Meniere’s disease effectively.

Treatment of Meniere’s disease focuses on reducing the intensity and frequency of the frightening symptoms of the disease. Motion sickness drugs and diuretics have been found highly beneficial in dealing with Meniere’s disease and its symptoms.

In addition, a diet focused on the inclusion of more potassium-rich foods like bananas, lentils etc is useful in reducing the amount of fluids the body retains, thereby relieving the symptoms effectively.

Dietary measures also lay emphasis on restriction of salt in the diet thereby aiding in decreasing the accumulation of endolymph fluid in the inner ear.

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