Ménière's disease is a disorder that affects the inner ear. The disease is named after a French doctor called Prosper Ménière who first described the disease in the 1860s.
The symptoms of Ménière's disease usually appear as attacks without warning, often lasting around two to three hours. The symptoms may take one to two days to disappear completely and the severity of Ménière's disease varies widely from person to person.
Ménière's disease typically comes in attacks (episodes) of the following symptoms:
*Dulled hearing in the affected ear(s). The degree of hearing loss varies.
An attack of Ménière's disease may last from 20 minutes to several hours. The average is 2-4 hours. Many people feel quite sleepy after an attack. Slight unsteadiness may last a day or so after an attack - sometimes longer.
It is thought that a build-up of fluid in the labyrinth from time to time causes the symptoms. The build-up of fluid may increase the pressure and cause swelling of the labyrinth. Also, fluid may leak between different parts of the labyrinth. These effects may cause the inner ear to send abnormal messages to the brain, which causes the dizziness and vomiting.
It is not clear why a build-up of fluid occurs in the labyrinth. There may be some fault where the amount of fluid made is more than the amount drained. A variety of factors may cause this. For example, slight abnormalities of the bones around the middle ear may be a factor. Inheritance may play some part. Other theories include: viral infections of the ear, salt imbalance in the labyrinth fluid, diet and a faulty immune system.
Ménière's disease progresses through different stages. In the early stages, some people may have 6-11 attacks a year. In the later stages, there are usually fewer attacks and they eventually stop. For most people with Ménière's disease, the symptoms will improve and disappear after two to eight years. However, some people will be left with permanent hearing loss (which can affect one or both ears) and/or tinnitus.
A variety of medications are available to treat Ménière's disease which allows most people with the disease to continue with their normal daily activities. There are also a range of techniques and therapies that can help with the tinnitus and balance problems.
For more information visit:http://www.menieres.org.uk/