Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes in which you feel as if you're spinning (vertigo), and you have fluctuating hearing loss with a progressive, ultimately permanent loss of hearing, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear. In most cases, Meniere's disease affects only one ear.
Meniere's disease can occur at any age, but it usually starts between the ages of 20 and 50. It's considered a chronic condition, but various treatments can help relieve symptoms and minimize the long-term impact on your life.
Signs and symptoms of Meniere's disease include:
- Recurring episodes of vertigo. You have a spinning sensation that starts and stops spontaneously. Episodes of vertigo occur without warning and usually last 20 minutes to several hours, but not more than 24 hours. Severe vertigo can cause nausea and vomiting.
- Hearing loss. Hearing loss in Meniere's disease may come and go, particularly early on. Eventually, most people have some permanent hearing loss.
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus). Tinnitus is the perception of a ringing, buzzing, roaring, whistling or hissing sound in your ear.
- Feeling of fullness in the ear. People with Meniere's disease often feel pressure in the affected ears (aural fullness) or on the side of their heads.
After an episode, signs and symptoms improve and might disappear entirely. Episodes can occur weeks to years apart.