What is Ménière's disease?
Menieres disease is a long-term progressive condition of the inner ear that causes bouts (also known as episodes or attacks) of dizziness, hearing loss and tinnitus.
Menieres disease has a range of symptoms. It is thought they are brought on by an increase in the volume of the endolymph fluid, which is found in the inner ear. The symptoms include:
- Nausea, vomiting and occasionally diarrhoea, although these symptoms can get better with time
- A 'blocked' feeling in the affected ear
- Hearing loss, which tends to come and go in the early stages of the condition (although repeated attacks can cause permanent hearing loss in some people)
- Occasionally, oversensitivity to loud sounds - this is known as hyperacusis
If you have Menieres disease, you may have bouts of the condition separated by periods when you are not affected by it at all - these periods are known as remission. They may be a few days, or longer than 10 years. Periods of remission vary in each person and over time, which makes Menieres disease an unpredictable and often distressing illness.
If you are concerned about any dizziness or balance problems you should visit your GP. If your GP thinks you have Menieres disease, you may be referred to the ear, nose and throat (ENT) or audiology specialist for further tests. There is no single specific test that is reliable for testing for Menieres disease. The specialist will use a series of tests to diagnose it.
Menieres disease usually first appears in people between the ages of 20 and 45 years.