It typically only affects one ear but it can spread to both over time. Episodes can last a few minutes or a couple of hours but it can take a couple of days for symptoms to disappear entirely.
An attack of Ménière's disease can include the following symptoms:
- Vertigo (dizziness or spinning)
- Hearing loss
- A feeling of fullness, or pressure deep in the ear
- Nausea or vomiting
It is thought the symptoms of Ménière's disease are brought on by an increase in the volume of endolymph fluid, which is found in the inner ear.
With no cause identified, the disease might be a result of a combination of factors such as:
- Improper drainage of fluid in the ear
- A family history of the disease
- Head injury
- Viral infection
- Disorder of the immune system
A diagnosis of Ménière's disease involves discussing your symptoms with an audiology and/or medical professional. A full hearing assessment will establish if you have any hearing loss. You may be referred for specialised vestibular (balance) testing to determine if there are any changes to the balance system in your ears.
Following an 'attack', you should have your hearing retested to determine if there has been any change and discuss any symptoms with your audiology and/or medical professional.
Treatment and prevention
Although there is no cure at the moment, there are a number of treatment options to consider that may help you to manage and live with your symptoms.
Your GP may prescribe medication to alleviate the symptoms. Some people find reducing their intake of caffeine, alcohol or salt can help with their symptoms, as can stopping smoking. Reducing fatigue and stress are also helpful for some people. Wearing hearing aids will help with any hearing loss and may alleviate tinnitus. Ménière's disease support groups are also available around the country to offer guidance and support.