Meniere’s disease is a chronic disorder of the inner ear affecting both the hearing as well as the balance mechanisms. It is thought to originate in an elevated pressure of a certain inner ear fluid space resulting in spell like presentation of both hearing and balance symptoms. With chronic progressive issues, substantial hearing loss can be encountered and the balance symptoms can sometimes be of disabling nature.
Characteristic spells last in the order of 20 minutes to 2 hours. Most individuals will experience a humming noise in the affected ear. The main symptoms, however, it true spinning vertigo accompanied by nausea and vomiting. After each attack, patients will experience exhaustion and a vague disequilibrium lasting for a few hours to the rest of the day. The frequency of these spells is highly variable and can range from one spell per year to multiple spells per week.
In order to optimize the patient’s quality of life, the main focus of treatment is controlling the balance related symptoms. In early stages, this can often be managed via a low salt diet and/or a diuretic (fluid pill). With persistent issues, more aggressive management options are available including various procedures.