About Ménière's Disease

Ménière's disease is a complex inner ear condition that can be unpredictable and disabling. The cause is unknown and there is no cure. But Medtronic has a safe, simple, and effective Ménière’s disease therapy that can help you get back to enjoying life.1-12


Ménière’s disease is an inner ear condition that causes dizziness or vertigo, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Many Ménière’s disease patients also have a feeling of pressure in the ear. Usually Ménière’s disease affects one ear, but can occur in both. The dizziness and vertigo of Ménière’s disease can be very disabling, and put you more at risk for falls and accidents.


What initially causes Ménière’s disease is unknown. But Ménière’s disease patients have too much fluid in the inner ear. This fluid, called endolymph, sends messages to the brain about your hearing and balance. Too much endolymph can cause swelling in the inner ear. This distorts the signals it sends to your brain and causes the symptoms of Ménière’s disease.13-15


Ménière’s disease usually involves a combination of these symptoms:

  • Dizziness or vertigo, often with nausea and vomiting
  • Ringing or roaring in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Fluctuating hearing loss
  • A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear

Ménière’s disease symptoms are often unpredictable, making it difficult to function in daily life. It can take several days to recover from a severe vertigo attack. Coping with Ménière’s disease is often hard for family members, too. People with active Ménière’s disease can have a very low quality of life.16

See how the ear works

> Detail – See how the ear works

meniett diseased ear

> Detail – See the swollen hearing
and balance canals in Ménière's disease

Risk Factors

Because the cause of Ménière’s disease is unknown, it’s hard to predict who is at risk. However, you may be more at risk for Ménière’s disease if you:

  • Are a Caucasian between the ages of 20 to 60
  • Are under a lot of stress
  • Eat a diet that is high in salt
  • Are susceptible to allergens
  • Suffer from an auto-immune disorder

There is also some evidence that allergens and auto-immune disorders may play a role in Ménière’s disease.


Ménière’s disease can be hard to diagnose, because other conditions sometimes cause similar symptoms. To find out if you have Ménière’s disease, your doctor will take your medical history and perform a physical exam. You'll also have a few painless tests for hearing and balance, some of which can make you dizzy. You may have additional tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms.


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  1. Dornhoffer JL, King D. The effect of the Meniett device in patients with Ménière's disease: long-term results. Otol Neurotol 2008; 29(6):868-74.
  2. Mattox DE, Reichert M. Meniett device for Ménière's disease: use and compliance at 3 to 5 years. Otol Neurotol 2008; 29(1):29-32.
  3. Weining H, Fang L, Bo G, Jinmei Z. Clinical long-term effects of Meniett pulse generator for Ménière's disease. Acta Otolaryngol 2009; 129(8):819-825.
  4. Barbara M, Monini S, Chiappini I, Filipo R. Meniett therapy may avoid vestibular neurectomy in disabling Ménière's disease. Acta Otolaryngol 2007; 127(11):1136-1141.
  5. Nabi S, Parnes LS. Bilateral Ménière’s disease. Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2009; 17:356-362.
  6. Thomsen J, Sass K, Ödkvist L, Arlinger S. Local over-pressure treatment reduces vestibular symptoms in patients with Ménière’s disease: a clinical, randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Otol Neurotol 2005; 26:68-73.
  7. Rajan GP, Din S, Atlas MD. Long-term effects of the Meniett device in Ménière’s disease: the Western Australian experience. J Laryngol Otol 2005; 119:391-395.
  8. Densert B, Sass K. Control of symptoms in patients with Ménière’s disease using middle ear applications: A two-year follow-up. Acta Otolaryngol 2001; 121(5):616-621.
  9. Gates GA, Green Jr. JD, Tucci DL, Telian SA. The effects of transtympanic micropressure treatment in people with unilateral Ménière’s disease. Arch of Oto – HNS 2004; 130(6):718-725.
  10. Gates GA, Verrall A, Green Jr. JD, Tucci DL, Telian SA. Meniett clinical trial: long-term follow-up. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2006; 132:1311-1316.
  11. Ödkvist LM, Arlinger S, Billermark E, Densert B, Lindholm S, Wallquist J. Effects of middle ear pressure changes on clinical symptoms in patients with Ménière’s disease: A clinical, multicenter, placebo-controlled study. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl 2000; 543: 99-101.
  12. Densert B, Densert O, Arlinger S, Sass K, Ödkvist LM. Immediate effects of middle ear pressure changes on the electrocochleographic recordings in patients with Ménière’s disease: A clinical placebo-controlled study. 1997; Am J Otol 1997; 18:726-733.
  13. Torok N. Old and new in Ménière’s disease. Laryngoscope 1977; 87(11):1870-1877.
  14. Schuknecht HF. Pathophysiology of Ménière’s disease. Otolaryngol Clin North Am 1975; 8(2):508-514.
  15. Gulya AJ, Schuknecht HF. Classification of endolymphatic hydrops. Am J Otolaryngol 1982; 3(5):319-322.
  16. Anderson JP, Harris JP. Impact of Ménière’s disease on quality of life. Otol Neurotol 2001; 22:888-894.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 19 Jul 2011

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