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Ménière's Disease - Topic Overview

What is Ménière's disease?

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Ménière's (say "men-YEERS") disease is an inner ear problem that affects your hearing and balance.

The disease usually occurs in people ages 40 to 60. It affects both men and women. Children also can have Ménière's disease.

What causes Ménière's disease?

The cause of Ménière's disease is not known. It may be related to fluids that build up in the inner ear.

What are the symptoms?

Ménière's disease can cause symptoms that come on quickly. During a Ménière's attack, you may have:

  • Tinnitus, a low roaring, ringing, or hissing in your ear.
  • Hearing loss, which may be temporary or permanent.
  • Vertigo, the feeling that you or your surroundings are spinning.
  • A feeling of pressure or fullness in your ear.

An attack can last from hours to days. Most people have repeated attacks over a period of years. Attacks usually become more frequent during the first few years of the disease and then come less often after that.

How is Ménière's disease diagnosed?

To diagnose the disease, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your past health. Hearing tests or other tests, such as an MRI, may be done to make sure you don't have other conditions.

How is it treated?

Treatment helps control your symptoms, such as vertigo. Medicines for the inner ear may be used to reduce the spinning feeling of vertigo. Other medicines may help the nausea or vomiting caused by vertigo.

Some people may be able to have fewer attacks by:

  • Eating a low-salt diet.
  • Using medicines (diuretics) to get rid of extra fluids.
  • Doing exercises to improve balance.
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and stress.

Doctors sometimes use surgery to relieve the symptoms of Ménière's disease. But surgery can damage your hearing, so it is usually used only after other treatments have not worked.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about Ménière's disease:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

Living with Ménière's disease:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 13, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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