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Understanding Ménière’s Disease

Ménière’s disease is a chronic inner ear disorder that causes episodes of vertigo, and fluctuating hearing loss. Although it cannot be cured, Ménière’s disease can be managed to improve your quality of life. 

Ménière’s Disease Symptoms

The main symptom of Ménière’s disease is vertigo, which is characterized by an intense feeling of dizziness and loss of balance. Vertigo is known to cause nausea and vomiting, and creates the illusion that one’s surroundings are spinning. 

Other symptoms of Ménière’s disease include: 

  • Tinnitus: persistent ringing in the ears
  • Hearing loss 
  • Feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear
  • Pressure in the ear

Typically, Ménière’s disease only affects one ear, and is more likely to occur in adults between 40 and 60 years of age. Ménière’s disease may cause single attacks of dizziness separated by long periods of time, but it may also cause multiple attacks in a short period of time. 

Causes of Ménière’s Disease

Although the exact cause of Ménière’s disease is unknown, physicians believe that it is primarily caused by a build-up of fluid in the compartments of the inner ear, known as the labyrinth. The labyrinth contains your balance and hearing organs, and an excess of fluid can interfere with balance and hearing signals between the inner ear and the brain. 

Other potential causes of the condition are trauma to the head and a middle or inner ear infection. Risk factors include:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Allergies 
  • Family history 
  • Recent cold or viral illness

Treatment Options for Ménière’s Disease

Although there is no cure for Ménière’s disease, there are many treatments available to help you with the inner ear disorder. 


The main treatment for Ménière’s disease is medication. Most of the drugs used to treat Ménière’s disease are targeted at reducing sensitivity in the inner ear to prevent overreaction by the ear’s balance symptoms. This can help reduce fluid volume and pressure in the innear, resulting in decreased symptoms of vertigo.

Dietary Changes

Limiting salt intake and consuming water pills may help some people control their dizziness by reducing the amount of fluid that the body retains. In other cases, individuals have reported that caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol worsen their condition, so cutting these out of your diet may alleviate some of your symptoms. 

Steroid Injections

A corticosteroid injection may be helpful in reducing dizziness in Ménière’s disease patients. Gentamicin can also assist in controlling vertigo; however, gentamicin may raise the risk of hearing loss by damaging the microscopic hair cells in the inner ear.


In cases where all other treatments have failed, surgery is recommended to relieve dizziness and other symptoms. Surgical procedures include decompressing the endolymphatic sac and cutting the vestibular nerve. 

In addition, there are alternative treatment options that have been known to manage Ménière’s disease such as acupuncture, tai chi, and herbal supplements.

Contact Ear and Sinus Institute

At the Ear and Sinus Institute, we understand the difficulty of living with Ménière’s disease. If you or a loved one is suffering from this condition, contact us today to learn more about treatment options or to make an appointment with our ear and sinus medical professionals. 


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Call Us to Schedule an Appointment: (817) 332-4060
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