Symptoms of Ménière’s disease
An attack of Ménière’s disease could include any of the following symptoms:
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. People will usually feel quite tired afterwards.
People are affected in different ways, and episodes can happen regularly or can be days, weeks or even years apart.
Severity of Ménière’s disease
Although it’s a chronic condition, the severity of Ménière’s disease will vary from person to person. Some people can experience regular attacks, and some can go for years without having any symptoms.
But due to the sudden nature of attacks, it can sometimes put you in dangerous situations. For example, being suddenly overcome with vertigo or dizziness could cause you to fall or could be dangerous if you’re driving.
It’s usually categorised into three stages:
During this time a person will experience sudden, and often out of the blue, episodes of vertigo which can last anywhere between 20 minutes to a whole day. There may be some degree of hearing loss which will typically go after the episode fades away. It is also quite common at this stage to feel the effects of tinnitus.
Symptoms of vertigo tend to become less severe during this stage. However, the hearing loss and tinnitus will start to increase in severity. People may experience long-term ‘remission’ from their symptoms which can last up to several months.
During this stage, the person will not suffer from vertigo as often. However, symptoms of tinnitus and hearing loss will become progressively worse. People may also experience an unsteadiness with their balance.
Causes of Ménière’s disease
The exact cause of Ménière’s disease isn’t fully understood yet, but it’s thought that it could be related to the amount of fluid present in the inner ear, or damage to the structures of 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
Family history of the disease
Disorder of the immune system
Treatment process for Ménière’s disease
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.
Certain medications can help to manage or relieve the often debilitating dizziness or vertigo associated with the condition.
Although there isn’t a lot of evidence to support it, many people claim that reducing their intake of things like alchohol, salt, caffeine and stopping smoking can help with their symptoms.
If you’re struggling to cope with the effects the condition has on your everday life, you might find it helpful to undergo counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, or relaxation therapy. Look out for any support groups in your area too.
This can help with more severe symptoms as the medication can work faster than taking tablets.
If all other treatments are ineffective, surgery may be an option to help severe cases of vertigo. Although this is a rare treatment option.
Speak to your GP about the best treatment option for you.
Driving if you suffer from Ménière’s disease
If you’re a driver, you are required by law to inform the DVLA and your vehicle insurer of your condition, as the nature of the disease means that attacks can come on suddenly and without your control.
Some people do not experience such debilitating attacks, so changes to your licence aren’t always necessary.
If you ever feel a vertigo or dizziness attack coming on, then do not drive.
If you have any questions about driving with Ménière’s disease, visit your GP or the DVLA wesbite for more information.
How Ménière’s disease links to tinnitus
Tinnitus is a common symptom of Ménière’s disease and involves a high-pitched ringing, buzzing or whistling sound in the ears.
Although there is no exact cause of Meniere's there are potential causes and triggers. Some of these include:
- Head injury
- Middle or inner ear infection
- Side effects of certain medicines
- Stress or anxiety
- Abnormal immune response
Unfortunately not. Ménière’s disease is a chronic condition.
Most people with the condition don’t have any issues with flying.
There isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that diet affects Ménière’s disease, but some people claim maintaing a low salt, low alchol, low caffeine diet helps their symptoms.
Unfortunately not, but there are ways that you can manage your symptoms like taking certain medications.
Yes – both stress and anxiety are linked to Ménière’s disease either as a cause or symptom.
Whilst Ménière’s disease is progressive, many sufferers do get great success with hearing aids. The hearing loss associated with Ménière’s is generally in the low frequencies and modern hearing aids are quite capable of providing amplification in this area. Your local audiologist will be able to provide you with more information on which hearing aids are most suitable for your individual needs.
If you have this condition, you are required to inform the DVLA so that they can assess your condition and licence, and whether you are suitable to drive.