Meniere's disease is a chronic incurable vestibular disorder characterized by symptoms of episodic severe vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, ear ‘fullness’ and/or ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and nystagmus.
This disease derives its name from a French physician, Prosper Meniere, who theorized in the late 1800’s about the cause of this repertoire of symptoms, which he noted in many of his patients.
Early-stage acute attacks of Meniere’s disease vary in their length anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours. The attacks can occur regularly within a week or may be separated by weeks or months. Other symptoms may coincide with the attack such as anxiety, diarrhea, trembling, blurry vision, nausea and vomiting, cold sweats, and a rapid pulse or heart palpitations. Following the attacks patients often feel extreme tiredness, which requires many hours of rest to recover. For some patients time between attacks may be symptom free but other patients report ongoing related symptoms even between attacks.
The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is still not certain but it is theorized that it is due to an abnormal amount of endolymph fluid collecting in the inner ear and/or an abnormal buildup of potassium in the inner ear.