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.