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Meniere's Disease (Ménière's Disease)

Inner ear disorder that can affect both hearing and balance.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

About Meniere's Disease (Ménière's Disease)

Ménière's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes severe dizziness (vertigo), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear. Ménière's disease usually affects only one ear.

Attacks of dizziness may come on suddenly or after a short period of tinnitus or muffled hearing. Some people will have single attacks of dizziness separated by long periods of time. Others may experience many attacks closer together over a number of days. Some people with Ménière's disease have vertigo so extreme that they lose their balance and fall. These episodes are called "drop attacks."

Ménière's disease can develop at any age, but it is more likely to happen to adults between 40 and 60 years of age....Read more about Meniere's Disease NIH - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Surgery for Ménière's disease

Ménière's disease is characterised by recurrent attacks of three major symptoms: vertigo (rotational dizziness), deafness and tinnitus (ringing of the ears), and/or aural fullness, all of which are discontinuous and variable in intensity. The symptoms of Ménière's disease are thought to be caused by excess pressure in the fluids of the inner ear which leads to sudden attacks of vertigo and hearing loss. A number of surgical procedures, of varying levels of invasiveness, have been developed to reduce the symptoms of Ménière's disease, but it is not clear whether or not these are effective. The surgical interventions can be categorised as two types: one type of surgical intervention aims to affect the natural history of the disease, with conservation of vestibular function. The other type aims to relieve symptoms by abolishing vestibular function. Both types of surgical intervention are considered in this review. Despite an extensive search the review authors only found two randomised controlled trials studying surgical interventions for Ménière's disease. Both of these trials, involving a total of 59 patients, studied endolymphatic sac surgery; one comparing it to placebo surgery and the other to a different type of surgery. Neither trial detected a significant difference between the treatment and control group.

Diuretics for the treatment of Ménière's disease or syndrome

Diuretics (drugs which reduce fluid accumulation in the body) are commonly used in the management of the symptoms of vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus or aural fullness in patients with Ménière's disease. 'Endolymphatic hydrops' is an increase in the pressure of the fluids in the chambers of the inner ear and is thought to be the underlying cause of Ménière's disease. Diuretics are believed to work by reducing the volume (and therefore also the pressure) of these fluids. The authors of this systematic review carried out an extensive search but could not identify any randomised controlled trials of sufficient quality to include in the review. There is no good evidence about the effect of diuretics on the symptoms of Ménière's disease and further research is needed.

Betahistine for Ménière's disease or syndrome

Ménière's disease is a disorder of the inner ear which results in a spinning form of dizziness (vertigo), hearing loss and ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and can be disabling. It has no known cause. When it is secondary to a known inner ear disorder, it is called Ménière's syndrome. Both can be difficult to diagnose. The drug betahistine hydrochloride (Serc®, Betaserc®) has been used to reduce the frequency and severity of the attacks. While the drug is very acceptable to those who use it, the review of trials did not find enough evidence to show whether it is helpful. Further research is needed.

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Summaries for consumers

Surgery for Ménière's disease

Ménière's disease is characterised by recurrent attacks of three major symptoms: vertigo (rotational dizziness), deafness and tinnitus (ringing of the ears), and/or aural fullness, all of which are discontinuous and variable in intensity. The symptoms of Ménière's disease are thought to be caused by excess pressure in the fluids of the inner ear which leads to sudden attacks of vertigo and hearing loss. A number of surgical procedures, of varying levels of invasiveness, have been developed to reduce the symptoms of Ménière's disease, but it is not clear whether or not these are effective. The surgical interventions can be categorised as two types: one type of surgical intervention aims to affect the natural history of the disease, with conservation of vestibular function. The other type aims to relieve symptoms by abolishing vestibular function. Both types of surgical intervention are considered in this review. Despite an extensive search the review authors only found two randomised controlled trials studying surgical interventions for Ménière's disease. Both of these trials, involving a total of 59 patients, studied endolymphatic sac surgery; one comparing it to placebo surgery and the other to a different type of surgery. Neither trial detected a significant difference between the treatment and control group.

Diuretics for the treatment of Ménière's disease or syndrome

Diuretics (drugs which reduce fluid accumulation in the body) are commonly used in the management of the symptoms of vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus or aural fullness in patients with Ménière's disease. 'Endolymphatic hydrops' is an increase in the pressure of the fluids in the chambers of the inner ear and is thought to be the underlying cause of Ménière's disease. Diuretics are believed to work by reducing the volume (and therefore also the pressure) of these fluids. The authors of this systematic review carried out an extensive search but could not identify any randomised controlled trials of sufficient quality to include in the review. There is no good evidence about the effect of diuretics on the symptoms of Ménière's disease and further research is needed.

Betahistine for Ménière's disease or syndrome

Ménière's disease is a disorder of the inner ear which results in a spinning form of dizziness (vertigo), hearing loss and ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and can be disabling. It has no known cause. When it is secondary to a known inner ear disorder, it is called Ménière's syndrome. Both can be difficult to diagnose. The drug betahistine hydrochloride (Serc®, Betaserc®) has been used to reduce the frequency and severity of the attacks. While the drug is very acceptable to those who use it, the review of trials did not find enough evidence to show whether it is helpful. Further research is needed.

See all (8)

Terms to know

Cochlea
Snail-shaped structure in the inner ear that contains the organ of hearing.
Hearing
The perception of sound by the ear.
Hearing Loss
A general term for the complete or partial loss of the ability to hear from one or both ears.
Inner Ear
Part of the ear that contains both the organ of hearing (the cochlea) and the organ of balance (the labyrinth).
Labyrinth (Vestibular System)
Organ of balance located in the inner ear. The labyrinth consists of three semicircular canals and the vestibule.
Tinnitus
Sensation of a ringing, roaring, or buzzing sound in the ears or head. It is often associated with many forms of hearing impairment and noise exposure.
Vertigo
A type of dizziness with a sensation of spinning.

More about Meniere's Disease

Photo of an adult

Also called: Ménière's syndrome, Ménière's vertigo, Menieres disease, Meniere disease, Meniere's syndrome, Meniere disorder, Meniere syndrome, Otogenic vertigo, Auditory vertigo, Aural vertigo

Other terms to know: See all 7
Cochlea, Hearing, Hearing Loss

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