Ménière's Disease is a complex disease of the human body's acoustic system, consisting of three distinct symptoms that may affect the patient in varying degrees.
The 3 symptoms consist of:
This symptom complex can occur in different forms and in different time sequences. However, the moment the patient describes all three symptoms, Meniere's disease should be suspected.
1. The feeling of pressure on the ear is usually a nonspecific problem, ie it is usually best tolerated by the patients and initially ignored. In most cases, the complaints are suspected by the patients in another harmless cause (eg otitis media) and initially no further medical steps are initiated.
2. If the dizziness, patients are usually more attentive and seek medical attention. The dizziness symptomatology is described in almost all cases as a vertigo, almost never as Schwankschwindel. The symptomatology can vary greatly, but usually limits the patients very much.
With pronounced Schwankschwindel it can come also to nausea and vomiting. These often tormenting symptoms then leads almost all patients to the doctor. Ménière's disease usually occurs in seizures, which can last for minutes to hours. Depending on the severity of the manifestation, the intervals of the seizures may be shorter or longer.
There are also factors that can increase seizure frequency. In some cases, patients complain about the vertigo during active movements, such as getting up and running. At an advanced stage or in severe illnesses, it can already come to the tormenting feeling of permanent rotation while lying down.
Corresponding equilibrium problems with instabilities and uncertain gait can be added. Significant progress can lead to a massive general deterioration of the patient, which culminates in the fact that patients can no longer leave their home and must be taken by ambulance to a clinic.
In weaker stages of the disease or in early stages, the patients are usually symptom-free at night during sleep, the dizziness usually begins after getting up. In advanced disease or in severe cases, patients will not rest even when lying down; sleep is only possible in stages, which can also lead to loss of strength of the patient in the long run.
3. Another symptom of Meniere's disease is hearing loss. It starts unnoticed at first and then increases without treatment. In most cases, the low-frequency range is affected, ie increasingly low sounds can no longer be heard by the patient.
In most cases, the symptoms only occur in one ear, while bilateral Meniere's disease is extremely rare. In many cases, in addition to the deafness also comes to a whistle in the ear. This whistling is often confused with the clinical picture of tinnitus.
The sounds that can arise in a Meniere's disease are varied and range from loud squeaks to deep growls. It is striking, however, that unlike the rule in tinnitus, the ear noises are not permanent and can be stronger at several times of the day and in turn completely disappeared from others.
The cause of this complex disease of the ear is not yet fully understood. However, it is assumed that it comes from a still unexplained cause to a so-called hydrops of the inner ear. This results in an increase in pressure of the fluid of the inner ear.
This pressure also affects the labyrinth system of the ear, which is responsible for the balance. An increased pressure on the system leads to a reduced function of the system and thus to the described dizziness symptoms.
The symptom triad described leads to a not inconsiderable degree to psychological effects. One would actually have to speak of four leading symptoms. Depending on the stage at which Meniere's disease is treated, more or less pronounced mental symptoms are added.
These range from imbalance to anxiety disorders and panic attacks. The full manifestation of the mental symptoms can lead to a complete loss of strength and a collapse, as hard-hit patients can neither sleep properly and settle down, nor can they spend a day without vertigo.
Although the symptom triad of Meniere's disease is very severe and the patients are very stressed, the full extent of all symptoms makes it easier for the doctor to diagnose, because in the description of all symptoms the diagnosis is almost certain, a further clarification usually does not have to be and with a speedy treatment can be started.