What Is Meniere’s Disease?

ringing ear

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  • Meniere’s disease affects 12 out of every 1,000 people in the world and usually occurs in people ages of 20 to 50 years old
  • Meniere’s disease, also known as idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops, is a condition of the inner ear that’s characterized by a combination of episodic symptoms, which may interfere with your hearing and cause you to lose your balance

Meniere’s disease, also known as idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops, is a condition of the inner ear that’s characterized by a combination of episodic symptoms, which may interfere with your hearing and cause you to lose your balance. The symptoms often include vertigo, hearing loss and a sensation of ringing in the ears.1

This condition was first described in 1861 by the French physician Prosper Meniere. His initial goal was to point out that vertigo may be caused by damage to the inner ear. However, his groundbreaking description of patients with intermittent hearing loss and vertigo led to the founding of another disease, which now bears his name.2

Despite being discovered during the 19th century, Meniere’s disease still remains a mysterious condition to physicians today. Even though researchers have not yet discovered the cause or cure for this disease, their continuous research efforts have led to a better understanding of its types, epidemiology and clinical course.

Different Types of Meniere’s Disease

The cases of Meniere’s disease are classified based on the types, severity and frequency of the symptoms that they cause. The primary classifications of this condition are:3

Classic Meniere's disease: Patients with this form of Meniere's disease experience both balance disorders and hearing impairment. Most cases are unilateral, which means that only one ear is affected. The chances of experiencing permanent hearing loss are also higher with this form of Meniere's disease.

Vestibular Meniere's disease: This type of Meniere's disease is characterized by vertigo attacks, aural fullness and ringing sensation in the ear. People with this condition are less likely to experience hearing loss.4,5

Bilateral Meniere's disease: Similar to the classic type of Meniere's disease, the bilateral form also causes hearing loss and vertigo. What sets it apart from the other types of this disease is that it affects both ears. Statistics show that approximately 50 percent of patients may develop this form of Meniere's disease within two years of diagnosis.6

In addition to the types mentioned above, there are also cases of Meniere’s disease that are classified as cochlear. This is a condition wherein the patient may experience hearing loss and aural pressure without vertigo.7 However, this classification is no longer recognized, since the current diagnostic criteria for Meniere’s disease state that vertigo must be one of the symptoms to diagnose this condition.8

Statistics on Meniere’s Disease: How Many Are Affected by This Condition?

Meniere’s disease affects 12 out of every 1,000 people in the world. In America, around 0.2 percent of the population is formally diagnosed with this disorder. However, a study shows that 2 percent of the U.S. population believe they have Meniere’s disease. Since there’s no cure for this condition, the statistics are expected to rise every year. In fact, worldwide there are approximately 100,000 new cases of Meniere’s disease annually.9

Meniere’s disease usually affects people ages 20 to 50 years old. Studies suggest that patients who are suffering from this condition are more likely to experience depression and/or anxiety, since its symptoms may hinder people from performing normal day-to-day tasks. Fortunately, up to 95 percent of patients can successfully control their condition with the help of the right treatment methods.10

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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