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Updated: Oct 17, 2022

What is Meniere’s Disease?

Meniere’s disease is a disease of the inner ear that can produce symptoms of vertigo or spinning, hearing loss, buzzing or ringing sounds and a sensation of the ear plugged up in the affected ear. While all symptoms may not be present, these episodes may occur randomly with vertigo typically lasting for more than 20 minutes to hours and associated with nausea or vomiting or headaches/migraine. Over time, the hearing loss gets worse. Sometimes both ears may be affected and the disease may run in families. In the early phases of the disease, the hearing loss tends to fluctuate. Classic Meniere's disease is defined as the complete presentation of the following symptoms:

  • Vertigo

  • Fluctuating hearing loss especially in the low frequencies

  • Tinnitus

  • Ear plugged-up sensation

Variations of the disease that affect only the hearing or balance areas are called cochlear or vestibular Meniere’s disease.

What Causes Meniere’s disease?

While the exact mechanism remains unclear, there are many causes that can result in Meniere's disease or endolymphatic hydrops which is a disorder of the inner ear. Some of these include:

  • Trauma to the ear

  • Viral infection

  • Autoimmune inflammation

  • Some sexually transmitted diseases

  • Allergies

The most common pathologic finding is of hydrops or excess liquid called endolymph in the balance and hearing organs of the inner ear.