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R. Sterling Hodgson, M.D.
1849 NW Kearney Street, Suite 200
Portland, OR 97209

Office: 503.553.3664
Fax: 503.553.3668

Meniere's Disease

Meniere's Disease is a disorder that arises from an abnormality of inner ear fluids. Although it commonly affects only one ear, the American Academy of Otolaryngology estimates that approximately 15% of all diagnosed cases may involve both ears. The classic trio of symptoms comprising Meniere's Disease are episodic spinning vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss and tinnitus (or ringing in the ears). Feelings of fullness or pressure in the ear(s) may also be a symptom. Perhaps the most disconcerting and, at times, disabling component of Meniere's is vertigo. Episodes typically start with little to no warning and may last minutes to several hours, rarely longer. Nausea and even vomiting can occur. Many patients report a sense of drowsiness or fatigue following a Meniere's attack that can linger for several days. Fluctuations in hearing are common and there is often a sense of distortion or lack of clarity that makes it difficult to understand speech or tolerate louder sounds. These symptoms come in varying degrees and patterns from patient to patient and can manifest themselves as an occasional annoyance or become very disabling. It is important to establish care with an experienced specialist who can help patients manage these symptoms and minimize the interruptions to their lives.

In addition to a complete history and thorough examination by a physician, a hearing test can be very helpful in diagnosing Meniere's. There are very classic attributes of an audiogram that help physicians identify Meniere's Disease. These include hearing loss in the low frequencies and reduced ability to recognize and repeat words. The doctor may order additional tests as needed to assess balance function. In some cases, the doctor may suggest a CT scan or MRI to rule out other conditions.

Meniere's Disease can be managed with a combination of medication, diet modification and lifestyle changes. Patients are advised to eat a low-sodium diet and take a prescription diuretic. Other medications may be prescribed to help manage dizziness, vertigo and nausea. As always, it is important to maximize a healthy lifestyle by eating properly and remaining physically active. By doing so, the balance organs and the patient's own balance capabilities are maintained as much as possible. Extended bed rest is not typically recommended. Patients are asked to limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol and to quit smoking.

If episodes cannot be managed by conservative therapies, the doctor may suggest surgery. There are several procedures that can minimize or control vertigo attacks and in many cases hearing can be preserved. Risks, benefits and reasonable expectations for the outcome of these procedures should be carefully discussed with your specialist.


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R. Sterling Hodgson, MD | | 503.553.3664
1849 NW Kearney St., Suite 200, Portland, OR 97209


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