Meniere’s Disease

A health condition that causes vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and hearing loss is called Meniere’s disease. This condition is quite rare and it often impacts one ear only. Mostly, this ear condition progresses slowly and hearing loss can be permanent.

It is called Meniere’s disease after a French doctor (Prosper Meniere). He identified that symptoms come from the inner ear and not from the brain in the 1860s. At that time, people believed this condition occurred due to the brain.


The symptoms happen because of a fluid (known as endolymph). This substance builds up in the organs of the inner ear that are responsible for hearing. For example:

  • Cochlea – This is a snail-shaped organ located in the inner ear. It contains a fluid that vibrates when sound waves pass it. These vibrations provoke movement of the nerve endings in the cochlea. Thereafter, these vibrations are converted into electric impulses and sent to the brain. However, if a person has an increased fluid amount that builds up in the cochlea, it can interact with this process. It usually leads to loss of hearing.
  • Vestibular Labyrinth – Another organ located in the inner ear, which helps with the balance sense. It can be compared to a smartphone accelerometer. Therefore, it tells you where is the body and head in space when you move around. In any case, if someone has an increased fluid buildup in the vestibular labyrinth, it can lead to trouble with the balance sense.

Additionally, a fluid buildup is usually a Meniere’s disease symptom but it can happen due to other health conditions (including idiopathic sensorineural hearing loss). Thus, healthcare professionals should do some tests to confirm Meniere’s disease.

Moreover, experts do not know the exact cause of fluid buildup in the inner ear but they think it can be caused by a disruption of the body balance (such as producing and breaking down endolymph in the ear). Check below some factors that can provoke this disruption:

Healthcare providers believe that several factors contribute to Meniere’s disease.

What are the Risk Factors for Meniere’s Disease?

The risk of this ear disease increases in the following cases. Examples include:

  • Autoimmune condition (including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or ankylosing spondylitis)
  • Family history of Meniere’s disease (approximately 10% of people with family history develop this ear disease)
  • People between 40-60 years old
  • Women and people assigned to females at birth (AFAB)


Check below some general symptoms of this ear condition:

  • Hearing loss that may worsen over time
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears that usually occurs along with a vertigo episode)
  • Pressure in the ear
  • Sudden vertigo or dizziness (that can last between 20 minutes and 24 hours). It can provoke nausea, vomiting, and abnormal eye movements.

This ear disease is a progressive condition, which means it worsens over time. People with this condition experience symptoms differently. For instance, vertigo usually appears later not right after diagnosis. While some people may experience vertigo several times per week others may notice it in months or even years. Usually, after vertigo episodes people are tired and need rest.

Along with general Meniere’s disease symptoms, some people may experience anxiety and depression.

Meniere’s Disease Stages

  • Early stage – This is the first stage of this disease and people with the early stage can experience sudden vertigo episodes and in some cases tinnitus. They also experience mild hearing loss and a fullness feeling during previous symptoms.
  • Intermediate stage – In such cases, vertigo attacks can cause certain permanent hearing loss. The symptoms are getting worse in people with the second stage of Meniere’s disease.
  • Late stage – Mostly, people with this stage notice that vertigo stops or goes away but hearing loss continues to get worse. Moreover, permanent damage to balance organs also happens and you may face problems in keeping the balance, especially in the dark.


The symptoms of this condition are very similar to other health conditions and sometimes it may be challenging to diagnose it. Physicians commonly diagnose this ear disease if you have at least 2 vertigo attacks, hearing loss is confirmed by tests, and experience ringing in the ears and fullness or pressure in the ear. They also will perform a physical examination and ask you some questions about symptoms and how often they happen. However, if your doctor is not sure whether you have Meniere’s disease or not, you may need to do some tests. Check below some of them:


During this test, doctors check how well you can hear the sounds at different volumes and pitches. Those who suffer from Meniere’s disease have hearing loss either high or low frequencies.

Balance Tests

The following tests are usually done to verify how well the inner ear works. For example:

  • Electronystagmography (ENG) or videonystagmography (VNG) – These tests involve measuring eye movement when a person follows a target or moves the head while cold and warm air blows into the ear canal.
  • Rotary chair testing – This is a computed controlled chair that spins. It is done to trigger the inner ear and the physician looks at your eye movements.
  • Vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) – A test in which the doctor checks how the muscles in the inner ear react.
  • Computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) – A person should stand barefoot on a special platform that moves in different directions. Thereafter, your doctor will give you are safety harness and will assess your response when that platform moves.
  • Video head impulse test (vHIT) – This test helps to determine how well you can focus on a point when the head is suddenly moved.
  • Electrocochleography – This test is done to check for fluid pressure in the inner ear.


However, there is no cure for Meniere’s disease but the proper treatment can help to lessen the symptoms and improve your quality of life. Check below some treatment options:

  • Lifestyle changes – These include a diet that excludes wine, bananas, chocolate, caffeine, yogurt, nuts, smoked meats, candy, jelly, soda, and other sugar substitutes. It also is advised to drink plenty of water during treatment and eat fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Medications – Doctors prescribe the following medicines to get rid of vertigo because it is considered the most severe symptom that happens in people with Meniere’s disease. Medicines include Hyoscine, Ondansetron, Prochlorperazine, Betahistine, Hydrochlorothiazide, Triamterene, Diazepam, Meclizine, Lorazepam, and others.
  • Therapies – In some cases, doctors may recommend the following therapies along with medications. These include pressure pulse treatment, vestibular rehabilitation therapy, counseling, and psychological therapy.
  • Middle ear injections – Physicians may give you an injection that contains Gentamicin to lessen vertigo symptoms. This injection is usually given by a doctor in the hospital or clinic. Do not administer this medicine without a doctor’s recommendation.
  • Surgery – There are some surgery options and they are used when other treatment methods are not working for you. Examples include labyrinthectomy, vestibular nerve section, and endolymphatic sac decompression.
  • Alternative Therapies – Some people noticed that therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure, or tai chi help them to lessen the symptoms. They can also use some supplements that help to boost the body’s defense (immune system) or blood circulation. For example omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B, manganese, magnesium, calcium, colloidal silver, ginkgo biloba, ginger root, cayenne pepper, and others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to prevent Meniere’s disease?

Unfortunately, it is not known what you should do to prevent this ear disease. However, if you experience sudden dizziness, vertigo, or ringing in the ears, it is advised to see a doctor immediately.

What foods should be avoided by people with Meniere’s disease?

The following foods should be avoided because they contain salt and carbohydrates. Therefore, eating them can lead to water retention in the inner ear and cause vertigo attacks. For example:

  • Hot dogs
  • Candy
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Jams and jellies
  • Processed cheese
  • Salted butter
  • Ketchup
  • Bottled salad dressing
  • Soy sauce
  • Anchovies

Discuss with your doctor for more details.

What are the triggers of Meniere’s disease?

The following factors usually cause this ear disease. Examples include head injuries, infections, and allergies. In case you have additional questions, ask your healthcare professional.

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