Meniere's Disease

Meniere's Disease is due to excess fluid accumulation in the inner ear. The disorder can run in families and is more common in women than men. Patients with classical Meniere's Disease have four symptoms:

1.Fullness or pressure in the ear
2.Roaring, ringing or noise in the ear (tinnitus)
3.Hearing loss which fluctuates
4.Episodes of balance disturbance (vertigo)

There are variations of Meniere's Disease in which patients have hearing loss and tinnitus but no vertigo ("cochlear variant"), or patients who have essentially normal and stable hearing but severe vertigo ("vestibular variant").

Meniere's Disease is diagnosed by combining a thorough history of the patient's symptoms and signs with a battery of audio-vestibular tests. The resulting work-up, together with a careful physical examination of the patient, forms the global picture Dr. John Shea III will use to arrive at a meaningful diagnosis. Shea Center's state-of-the-art audio-vestibular laboratory, staffed by Masters and PhD-level audiologists, sets the Center apart in the Mid-South United States for diagnosis of "the difficult ear".

Treatment for Meniere's Disease involves a spectrum which ranges from conservative medical management at one end to surgery on the inner ear at the other end. Fully 80% of patients' symptoms are controlled by dietary modification combined with a mild fluid pill (diuretic) and a balance sedative. Twenty per cent of patients will worsen despite medical management. These patients are treated surgically. The surgery may be as simple as special medication placed behind the eardrum (dexamethasone perfusion of the labyrinth). Some patients may benefit most from surgical placement of a shunt from one part of the inner ear to the other. Finally, in patients where hearing has been lost to the disease and vertigo is incapacitating, the inner ear may actually be disconnected surgically.

Dr. John J. Shea III has developed rational and highly effective protocols for managing patients with Meniere's Disease.

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