Meniere’s disease is an inner ear problem that causes periods of vertigo (spinning) that can last from 20 minutes to several hours and often results in nausea. The vertigo is usually accompanied by hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and a pressure sensation in the ear or on the side of the head. Meniere’s disease is rare in children but can occur in adults of any age.
One of the characteristics of Meniere’s disease is its unpredictable nature; the spells can occur from once a day to once a year. Over the course of months to years, the person’s hearing tends to fluctuate less with the spells and often is reduced between spells.
Meniere’s disease is thought to result from an excess of fluid in parts of the inner ear. The main treatment consists of a diuretic (a pill that helps the body get rid of excess fluid) and a low-salt diet. Additional treatments may include medication to suppress dizziness, such as meclizine (Antivert©) or diazepam (Valium©).
The majority of people with Meniere’s disease get relief with medical treatment. Those who fail medical treatment are offered surgical treatment, which is often successful.