What is it?
Ménière’s disease is a condition in which excessive fluid build-up in the inner ear causes severe dizziness (vertigo), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), fluctuating hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear. Ménière’s disease usually affects only one ear. Ménière’s disease can develop at any age, but it is more likely to happen to adults between 40 and 60 years of age.
Attacks of dizziness may come on suddenly or after a short period of tinnitus or muffled hearing. Some people will have single attacks of dizziness separated by long periods of time. Others may experience many attacks closer together over a number of days. Some people with Ménière’s disease have vertigo so extreme that they lose their balance and fall. These episodes are called “drop attacks.”
Many theories exist about what happens to cause Ménière’s disease, but no definite answers are available. Some researchers think that Ménière’s disease is the result of constrictions in blood vessels similar to those that cause migraine headaches. Others think Ménière’s disease could be a consequence of viral infections, allergies, or autoimmune reactions. Because Ménière’s disease appears to run in families, it could also be the result of genetic variations that cause abnormalities in the volume or regulation of endolymph fluid.
Diagnosis is based on the findings of a history and examination, and audiometric and vestibular tests.
Although there is no cure for Ménière’s disease, there are treatment options that can help control the symptoms and lessen the frequency of attacks of vertigo.
Endolymphatic Sac Surgery is a procedure that drains and opens the endolymphatic sac, the structure that is responsible for inner ear fluid metabolism. The operation takes approximately 1-2 hours and is performed under general anesthesia at our Orange County office.
Meniett Device – the device sends pressure pulses to the middle ear that help reduce excess fluid and restore the balance of the inner ear’s hydrodynamic system. The treatment is performed at home several times per day for an indefinite period.
Transtympanic Gentamicin – In severe cases of episodic vertigo, Transtympanic Gentamicin treatment may be used to deaden the balance portion of the inner ear. An anesthetic is used to numb the ear drum and then using a small needle, a drug called gentamicin is injected into the ear drum. This procedure can be used to treat one side, without affecting the other. Between one and three treatments are usually necessary.