Meniere's disease: what causes it? What are the symptoms (dizziness and...)?

Meniere's disease: what causes it? What are the symptoms (dizziness and...)?
Photo source: Getty images

Meniere's disease (also Meniere's syndrome) is a disease of the balance system of the inner ear. It causes enlargement of the labyrinth of the inner ear, called endolymphatic hydrops.

Most common symptoms

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What is Meniere's disease, why does it occur and what other symptoms does it cause besides dizziness?

The answers to these questions and other important information can be found in the article.

Meniere's disease = Meniere's syndrome.

The inner ear is a part of the ear. It consists of a bony and blanched labyrinth. It has a complex anatomical and histological structure.

The inner ear system is balanced by the cochlea and semicircular canals. The area is innervated by the balance nerve. It has its nuclei in the central nervous system and small endings in the inner ear. The nerve endings are irritated by an increase in the volume of the endolymph.

Under normal conditions, the concentration of electrolytes (sodium, potassium...) in the endolymph is balanced.

In Meniere's syndrome, there is an imbalance of these electrolytes.

The disease occurs in both men and women aged 30-60 years. The disease does not occur in children.

Dizziness and Meniere's syndrome, inner ear and balance system
Dizziness and Meniere's syndrome, inner ear and balance system. Photo source: Getty Images


Meniere's disease occurs when the endolymphatic sac in the inner ear malfunctions. It is caused by enlargement of the labyrinth itself.

Difficulties may arise after a cold. Therefore, they appear more often in autumn and winter.

The main risk factors include smoking, caffeine and alcohol. They have an immediate toxic effect on the inner ear and its blood supply.

The disease can also be caused by unbalanced sauna use without repeated adaptation of the organism.

The cause of the disease is usually unknown.

Hydrops can be caused by certain diseases. These include degenerative changes of the cervical spine (e.g. osteochondrosis), endocrine diseases (diseases of the endocrine glands), allergic reactions or infections. These are usually diseases that cause changes in the patency and tone of blood vessels in the inner ear.

The labyrinth itself can be irritated in various diseases.

One of the main causes is a disturbance of the vascular supply.

In rare cases, it may be a neurinoma (tumor of the balance nerve).

The disease also occurs in meningitis or after a head injury.


The main symptoms include:

  • dizziness (light-headedness)
  • tinnitus (whistling in the ear on one side)
  • hyposmia (one-sided hearing loss)
  • may be associated with
    • nausea, a feeling of vomiting
    • unsteady posture and loss of balance
    • sweating
    • headache
    • anxiety
Inner ear and tinnitus - whistling and humming in the ear
One of the symptoms is whistling in the ear - tinnitus. Anatomical representation of an inner ear disorder. Source: Getty Images


The basis of treatment is a correct diagnosis. Other diseases of the vestibular (balance) system should also be considered. Seizures usually recur several times in a row. One longer seizure may also occur.

The disease may be seasonal. It can be well controlled with effective treatment. Seizures do not return.

The correct diagnosis is made by a neurologist and an otorhinolaryngologist.

Audiometry, which measures the shift in hearing threshold, and examination of sound evoked potentials are performed.

The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is examined by puncture.

In the general picture, the cervical and cranial vessels and their flow are examined.

Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging is used to make an accurate diagnosis.


Meniere's disease is a seizure disorder.

It usually affects only one ear, but can be bilateral. Based on this, the doctor can investigate the nature of the dizziness.

The main complaints of the patient include dizziness and whistling in the ear lasting several hours. The patient often leans to one side. He is at risk of falling. Sometimes there is only a momentary loss of balance.

The patient often feels the urge to vomit and vomits.

He is uncomfortable and afraid.

The disease often recurs seasonally. It may occur every 2-3 days. Urgent medical attention is required.

There is general approval.

Head spinning and the idea of a spinning world around us
The main symptom is the spinning of the head and the surrounding world. Photo source: Getty Images

Dietary measures

It is necessary to limit the consumption of table salt. Products with a high salt content are, for example, ketchup, mayonnaise, soy sauce, chips. It is better to replace salt with herbs when cooking.

It is important to exclude caffeine and the intake of alcoholic beverages.

What to do during a seizure

First of all, it is important to take medication against dizziness prescribed by a doctor.

Because of the unpleasant dizziness, it is better to find a sitting or lying down position.

When closing the eyes, a person does not need to focus his eyes on objects around him. The dizziness will ease.

It is important not to turn the head quickly. It could worsen the condition.

Any movements should be made slowly and carefully.

The man is dizzy, falling, holding on to the wall.
Dizziness in some activities can cause accidents and injuries. Photo source: Getty Images

What is risky

With frequent seizures, it is dangerous to drive a car, swim or climb a ladder.

Some of these positions can cause dizziness.

Operating heavy machinery is also not recommended. Most people with Meniere's disease have no difficulty with air travel. In the event of a flare-up, it is better to move away from the window on the plane and go to the toilet.

Exercise for Meniere's disease

With an ongoing attack of dizziness, strenuous exercise is not recommended.

Some simple exercises may help. In the supine position, without moving the head, it is a good idea to practise sideways and up and down eye movements.

Another exercise may be to gently raise the head from lying down, i.e. pressing the chin against the rib cage.

Depending on the nature of the dizziness, it is advisable to move the head from lying down to the left and right.

A suitable alternative to relieve symptoms is to stretch the shoulders and slowly move the finger to the tip of the nose.

Depending on the nature of the symptoms, these exercises can also be done sitting down.

Another exercise is lifting an object off the ground with the eyes open and closed.

An alternative is to toss a ball from one hand to the other. It can be done sitting or standing.

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