DEFINITION--Increased fluid in the inner ear's semicircular canals, which
normally help maintain balance. Excess fluid produces pressure in the inner ear,
disturbing balance and sometimes reducing hearing.
BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Semicircular canals of the inner ear, usually on one side
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED
- Both sexes, but slightly more common in women.
- Adults between ages 30 and 60.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS--
CAUSES--The exact cause is unknown. Suggested causes involve an inner ear
response to a variety of injuries. There is an increase in the amount of fluid in the
membranous labyrinth (the canals in the inner ear that control balance).
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Increased salt intake.
HOW TO PREVENT--Avoid risk factors where possible.
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
- Diagnostic tests may include laboratory blood studies to rule out other disorders,
various hearing tests, MRI (See Glossary) to rule out
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- Self-care after diagnosis.
- Doctor's treatment.
- Treatment usually consists of rest and medication to control the symptoms.
- Surgical procedure on the affected labyrinth may be utilized in some patients with
- Permanent hearing loss.
- Chronic noises in the ear.
PROBABLE OUTCOME--Attacks of Meniere's disease usually recur over a period of
years. Mild attacks may last a half hour to several days. Severe attacks may last several
weeks. Some symptoms can be controlled. The condition is frustrating but not
How To Treat
- Avoid glaring light and don't read during attacks.
- Severe attacks may be accompanied by anxiety attacks or migraines.
MEDICATION--Your doctor may prescribe:
- To treat an acute attack, intravenous atropine or diazepam, or scopolamine via a patch.
- Antinausea drugs.
- Tranquilizers to reduce dizziness.
- Antihistamines, which lessen symptoms in some persons.
- Diuretics to decrease fluid in the inner ear.
- Rest quietly in bed until dizziness and nausea disappear.
- Don't walk without assistance.
- Avoid sudden changes in position.
- Don't drive, climb ladders or work around dangerous machinery.
- Decrease salt intake.
- Limit total intake during an attack because of nausea.
Call Your Doctor If
- You have symptoms of Meniere's disease.
- The following occurs during treatment: Decreased hearing in either ear. Persistent
vomiting. Convulsions. Fainting. Fever of 101F (38.3C) or higher.
- New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.