What Are the Possible Causes of Meniere’s Disease?

What Are the Possible Causes of Meniere’s Disease?

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  • The exact cause of Meniere’s disease still remains unknown today
  • Some researchers also think Meniere’s disease is caused by the constriction of blood vessels that are associated with migraine. However, further studies are needed to prove this theory

The exact cause of Meniere’s disease still remains unknown today. There have been numerous theories that surround its etiology. Unfortunately, none of these theories has been proven, due to the complex nature of the inner ear. One popular theory that researchers are looking into suggests that Meniere’s disease is caused by an abnormal amount of fluid (called endolymph) in the inner ear. Research also suggests that there are several factors that may lead to an abnormality of the inner ear fluid.1

Biological Factors That May Cause Meniere’s Disease

Researchers believe that there are several intrinsic factors that can affect a person’s susceptibility to Meniere’s disease. These include:

Genetic predisposition: The possibility of a person to inherit the genetic predisposition for Meniere's disease has been discussed since 1941.This theory was developed because of the well-documented ethnic bias in the occurrence of this condition.

According to a study published in the Application of Clinical Genetics in 2015, Caucasians have a higher risk of developing Meniere's disease than individuals with African, Asian and Latino American ancestry. The familial form of Meniere's disease is also reported to have a frequency of 7 to 15 percent.2

Abnormal immune function: A study published in the journal Audiology and Neuro-otology found that individuals with Meniere's disease have higher levels of serum autoantibodies or circulating immune complexes. This result allowed researchers to hypothesize that abnormal immune function may indeed play a role in the development of this condition.3

In addition, some researchers also think that Meniere’s disease is caused by the constriction of blood vessels that are associated with migraine. However, further studies are needed to prove this theory.4

External Factors May Influence the Occurrence of Meniere’s Disease Too

Due to the multifactorial characteristic of Meniere’s disease, researchers believe that it may be triggered by external factors, including:

Viral infection: Several studies suggest that Meniere's disease may be caused by a viral infection that affects the inner ear. The herpes virus is commonly associated with this disease, as autopsy specimens of sufferers reveal that this virus was found in different parts of the inner ear, including the endolymphatic sac and the vestibular and cochlear nerve.5

A study conducted in 2005 also suggests that neurotropic viruses, such as varicella zoster virus and adenovirus, may influence the pathogenesis of Meniere's disease.6

Physical trauma: Head injuries may cause a blockage and/or permanent anatomic abnormality to the inner ear, which may lead to Meniere's disease.7 Acoustic trauma may also activate the herpes virus in the ear, indirectly causing this condition.8

Environmental factors: There are a variety of environmental factors that may damage different parts of your ear and lead to Meniere's disease. For instance, noise pollution may destroy the hair cells that prevent dust and other contaminants from getting into your ear, putting you at a higher risk of developing balance disorders.9 A recent study also shows that changes in atmospheric pressure and humidity may trigger and/or exacerbate the symptoms of Meniere's disease.10

Allergy: The role of allergies in the occurrence of Meniere's disease has been studied since 1923, and there's actually a considerable amount of evidence to support this theory. Research shows that people with a history of allergy have a higher chance of developing Meniere's disease than the rest of the general population.11

In fact, 58 percent of sufferers have a history of allergy. A study published in the journal Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America also found that inhalant and food allergies are prevalent among individuals with Meniere’s disease. Other possible external factors that may trigger Meniere’s disease include physical, mental and emotional stress, illness, being overworked and an unhealthy diet.13

MORE ABOUT MENIERE'S DISEASE

Meniere's Disease: Introduction

What Is Meniere's Disease?

Meniere's Disease Symptoms

Meniere's Disease Causes

Meniere's Disease Treatment

Meniere's Disease Prevention

Meniere's Disease Diet

Meniere's Disease FAQ


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