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Ménière’s disease (while not really a disease, and more, a title for a set of symptoms) was first reported in 1861, making it one of the oldest balance conditions noted in medical literature.

Ménière’s disease has cycles of activity and inactivity. When active, the symptoms usually include some of the following: dizziness that lasts a few hours, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), a sense of pressure or fullness in the ear, and hearing loss. During inactivity, the symptoms can disappear or reduce. Over time, hearing is less likely to recover between attacks, which creates a need for some hearing assistance. During inactive periods, people can occasionally still feel a little off-balance, but often will have no dizziness. Ménière’s disease can severely impact quality of life when it is active. Although it is well-known by audiologists and other medical practitioners, it should be carefully differentiated to avoid misdiagnosis or over-diagnosis.

Ménière’s disease’s is characterised by excess fluid in the structures of the inner ear caused by either excess production, inadequate re-absorption, or mixing of different fluids that are meant to be kept separate. The medical term often used, is endolymphatic hydrops. This can happen without a known cause, or it may be secondary to another identifiable condition, such as migraine (and several others). Accurate assessment is vital because management may depend on identifying the underlying source.

Severity and fluctuation of Ménière’s disease symptoms means that management can be challenging. Management options generally target prevention of fluid build-up; reduction of symptoms in the active phase of disease; and management of any of the remaining problems (such as hearing loss, tinnitus, or residual imbalance). This is where an audiologist can really help. Balance rehabilitation may be possible in between attacks. Hearing aids can help with hearing loss. Tinnitus and other supportive counselling helps people to cope. Audiologists in this field also have vital information about dietary recommendations, which can be preventative.

Medication from your ENT specialist should also be explored.  Management is always tailored to the individual.

If you experience sensations of vertigo, dizziness, or imbalance, especially in the presence of other auditory symptoms such as blocked ears, fullness or pressure, tinnitus, or hearing loss, please consult your nearest audiologist or CALL US on 021 203 4327!