Ménière’s Disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance to a varying degree. It is characterized by episodes of vertigo and tinnitus and progressive hearing loss, usually in one ear. It is named after the French physician Prosper Ménière, who, in an article published in 1861, first reported that vertigo was caused by inner ear disorders. The condition affects people differently; it can range in intensity from being a mild annoyance to a chronic, lifelong disability.
The symptoms of Ménière’s are variable; not all sufferers experience the same symptoms. However, so-called “classic Ménière’s” is considered to have the following four symptoms:
- Periodic episodes of rotary vertigo or dizziness.
- Fluctuating, progressive, unilateral (in one ear) or bilateral (in both ears) hearing loss, usually in lower frequencies.
- Unilateral or bilateral tinnitus.
- A sensation of fullness or pressure in one or both ears.
Ménière’s often begins with one symptom, and gradually progresses. However, not all symptoms must be present for a doctor to make a diagnosis of the disease. Several symptoms at once is more conclusive than different symptoms at separate times.