Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s syndrome is named after the French doctor Prosper Meniere and is defined as a combination of irregular incidents of neurosensory hearing loss associated with tinnitus and vertigo episodes that tend to occur in waves. To these three classic symptoms, a fourth has been added – a feeling of pressure in the ailing ear.

The patient initially experiences a feeling of occlusion in one ear; confused, abnormal sense of hearing; and tinnitus. These problems are often attributed to a problem with the auditory tube and are treated with nasal decongestants or even antibiotics. The problem goes away temporarily until relapsing, possibly leaving a small loss of hearing, tinnitus and a feeling of occlusion. Within the first year of the first onset of symptoms, and often following a period of increased pressure in the ear, decreased hearing capacity or intense tinnitus, the patient experiences a lasting episode of vertigo (up to hours), which may bring about a sense of instability (with a duration of up to several days) and hearing loss.

Incidents occur in waves for several months and then seem to disappear, often for about a year, before relapsing, with a progressive loss of hearing and distortion of residual hearing.

There are many different forms of the disease, but all 4 symptoms (obstruction, hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo) need to be present for the disease to be diagnosed.

Treatment is difficult because the cause of the disease is unknown. There are various surgical operations that can be carried out in order to counter the feeling of vertigo: The simple insertion of an airflow tube in the tympanic membrane, surgical operation in the inner ear by which the bone covering the part of the inner ear is removed, dissection of the vestibular nerve, excision of the labyrinth in the inner ear (labyrinthectomy) which causes, though, loss of balance to the patient and finally treatment by injection of aminoglycosides (antibiotics) into the middle ear.

At each stage of the disease, there are applicable actions to improve the quality of life of patients, although, as the disease progresses it becomes more demanding and the emphasis is shifted from countering the feeling of vertigo to preserving the sense of hearing.