Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us

What Is Meniere’s Disease?

Meniere’s disease is a problem with the inner ear. It is also known as idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops. The inner ear is part of the ear is responsible for balance as well as hearing. This condition is one of the most common causes of dizziness that starts in the inner ear.

Meniere’s disease affects the inner ear

With Meniere’s, too much fluid (endolymph) backs up in the canals of the inner ear. . The cause of this fluid backup is unknown. Extra fluid causes pressure to build up. The canals then swell and can’t work right. Swelling in the hearing canal distorts or blocks sound information. Swelling in the balance canals distorts balance information. Distorted information travels from the inner ear to the brain. This causes problems with both balance and hearing. Although Meniere’s usually affects only one ear, it can occur in both ears.

Cross section of ear showing cochlea with Meniere's disease.

Symptoms of Meniere’s disease

  • Vertigo, a spinning or whirling sensation that causes balance problems. During an attack of vertigo, you may have nausea, vomiting, and sweating. Attacks usually start suddenly. They may last for 20 minutes to several hours. You may have attacks rarely, frequently, or in clusters. The first attack is usually the most intense.

  • Problems with hearing. Hearing is often partially or completely lost in the affected ear during vertigo attacks. It’s common for hearing to gradually get worse as the illness goes on.

  • Tinnitus, ringing, buzzing, whistling, or roaring noises in the affected ear. These noises may come and go or may always be present. The noises may get louder just before a vertigo attack.

  • A feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear. This is sometimes felt most strongly right before a vertigo attack.

You may feel fine between attacks. Or hearing or balance problems may continue between attacks.

Online Medical Reviewer: Ashutosh Kacker MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: John Hanrahan MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2019
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.