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Ménière's Disease - Treatment Overview

Although Ménière's disease cannot be cured, treatment is available to control symptoms and reduce the frequency of attacks. During an attack, medicines may be used to reduce vertigo and control nausea and vomiting.

No treatment is available to prevent the hearing loss that may eventually occur with progressive attacks of Ménière's disease.

Initial and ongoing treatment

Early and ongoing treatment of Ménière's disease focuses on controlling the symptoms-especially vertigo, a spinning sensation-and reducing the frequency of attacks. Changing what you eat may reduce the number and frequency of future attacks.

Treatment most often used to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks of Ménière's disease includes:

  • Taking medicines such as diuretics to reduce the accumulation of fluid (endolymph) in the inner ears .
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and stress or any substances or conditions that trigger an attack.
  • Taking vestibular suppressant medicines (such as antihistamines or sedatives) to calm the inner ear.
  • Eating low-salt foods to reduce fluid buildup in the inner ears. For more information, see:
    actionset.gif Ménière's Disease: Eating a Low-Salt Diet.

It is important to minimize the personal safety risks posed by Ménière's disease. For more information, see:

Vertigo: Staying Safe When You Have Balance Problems.
Vertigo: Balance Exercises.

Vertigo may be easier to tolerate if you lie down and hold your head very still until the attack passes. Treatment during an attack of vertigo may include:

  • Antihistamines to help with vertigo.
  • Corticosteroids to help with hearing loss, tinnitus, and vertigo.
  • Antiemetics to help with nausea and vomiting caused by vertigo.

Treatment if the condition gets worse

If symptoms of Ménière's disease are severe and do not respond to treatment, surgery is an option. The goal of surgery is to eliminate the symptoms of Ménière's disease without destroying hearing in the affected ear.

In rare cases, severe, persistent vertigo caused by Ménière's disease may be treated by destroying the balance center in the inner ear (labyrinth) through surgery (labyrinthectomy) or with an antibiotic injected into the ear (chemical ablation) to destroy the labyrinth. Because these treatments may cause hearing loss in that ear, they are typically used only as a last resort.

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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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