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Feeling Dizzy & Have Ringing In Your Ears? You May Have Meniere's Disease! Here's What You Need To Know

If you experience ringing in your ears, which is called tinnitus, as well as episodes of vertigo, you may have Meniere's disease. Meniere's disease is a chronic and progressive condition of the inner ear that can be treated in various ways to relieve symptoms. Here's a brief explanation of Meniere's disease, how to get a diagnosis, and what treatments are available. 

What is Meniere's disease? 

Meniere's disease is the overproduction of endolymph fluid in the inner ear, though the cause of this overproduction has not yet been determined. When there is too much fluid in the inner ear, it causes one of the three chambers inside the ear to widen and shift the basilar membrane, which is responsible for the hearing process.

This shifting of the basilar membrane disrupts the hair cells and this disruption leads to ringing in the ears. The progressive nature of this condition and the continual disruption of the hair cells and other structures inside the ears can lead to hearing loss. 

The excessive fluid inside the inner ear causes a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear as well as vertigo. Vertigo is a dizzying, spinning sensation that can start and stop without warning. The sensations can be so overwhelming that it can cause nausea and vomiting. 

How is Meniere's disease diagnosed? 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is no definitive test for Meniere's disease. First, it's important to see your primary care physician to rule out any other medical condition that may be causing your symptoms, such as Chiari malformation. Your physician can then refer you to an otolaryngologist for diagnosis. An otolaryngologist will take your medical history and evaluate any presence of episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, and other symptoms of Meniere's disease. You may be given a hearing test to determine the extent of your hearing loss, if any. 

What are the treatment options? 

There is no cure for Meniere's disease, but there are treatments that may alleviate the symptoms. Motion sickness and anti-nausea medication can help control the symptoms of vertigo and nausea. You may be prescribed a diuretic to reduce fluid retention and be asked to limit salt in your diet. 

A hearing aid can improve your hearing, particularly as the condition progresses. An audiologist can fit you with a hearing aid. An improvement in your hearing will allow you to hear more environmental sounds, such as the hum of a fan or sounds from the refrigerator, which can help mask the ringing in the ears. For more information, contact establishments like Cape May County Hearing Aid Dispensary.