The Meniere’s disease was named after the well known French Oto rhino laryngologist (ear, nose, throat specialist), Dr. Prosper Meniere who first described it in the year 1861 A.D as a disorder of the inner ear. His discovery was not well appreciated during those times when such disorders were thought to be incurable. He not only contributed greatly to the field of medicine but also he was known to be a prolific writer, archeologist, and a botanist.
Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that affects mostly people in the age groups between 40 years to 50 years of age. However, it is found to occur also in children. This disorder affects only one ear. With effective Menieres disease treatment the symptoms of the disorder can be cured completely.
The ear consists of three parts which are the external ear, middle ear, and the internal ear. A cluster of passages and cavities known as the labyrinth form the inner ear. The inside part of this labyrinth consists of a membrane filled with fluid known as endolymph, and the membrane is lined with sensory hairs that are sensitive to the movement of this fluid. The endolymph has to maintain certain volume, chemical composition and pressure for the proper functioning of the inner ear. When the properties of the endolymph are altered by certain factors, the Meniere’s disease is caused.
The trigger factors that cause Meniere’s disease are viral infection, allergies, improper fluid drainage due to blockage or abnormality in the structure of ear; abnormal immune response, trauma to head, genetic factors, emotional stress, fatigue, over work, changes in pressure, and salty foods.
Symptoms do not occur all the time in people with Meniere’s disease.
The doctor will conduct a physical examination and will ask the patient questions regarding the duration and severity of the sensory problem; history of allergies; past medical history; history of any ear problems in the family.
A hearing test (audiometry) is conducted to check if the patient is able to hear sounds of different pitches, and distinguish between two similar sounding words.
To check the function of the inner ear, there are tests that are conducted like Electronystagamography (ENG) (checks balance function by studying eye movement), Vestibular evoked myogenic potential testing (VEMP)(measures the function of sensors in inner ear), Posturography (reveals which part is causing balance problems) and Rotary chair testing (measures inner ear function).
To rule out other medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms tests like MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging), computerized tomography(CT scan), and auditory brainstem response audiometry (helps detecting tumor) are done.
By making certain healthy life style changes one can prevent Meniere’s disease.