MD is a disorder of the inner ear. With MD, you will have two or more episodes of vertigo, described as the feeling of spinning or moving when you are still, that last between 20 minutes to 24 hours. Other symptoms you may have along with vertigo include:
When you have vertigo, you feel like you are spinning or moving when you are still. It is caused when your vestibular system is not working correctly. Vertigo can also be caused by other issues such as headaches.
The vestibular system includes the inner ear, eyes, and nerves connected to the brain that help us with balance, coordination, and posture.
Tinnitus is when you hear ringing, buzzing, or other noises in your ear, when there is nothing causing the noise. Tinnitus sounds are different for each patient.
Fluctuating hearing loss can happen when you first start having MD. This type of hearing loss is hearing that suddenly changes back and forth between getting worse and getting better.
Your health care provider will ask questions to get a history of your symptoms. They may also recommend additional tests. Your health care provider may ask the following questions:
Keeping a journal of symptoms can help your health care provider make the right diagnosis. Sometimes it takes many visits to diagnose MD.
Your health care provider may have you get the following testing:
Audiogram—This is a hearing test. An audiologist performs this test.
Video- or Electro-nystagmogram (VNG or ENG)—This exam tests your ears and eyes to find the cause of issues with your vestibular system. This test is not necessary to diagnose MD but may help find a different cause to the vertigo.
Electrocochleography (ECochG)—ECochG measures the electrical responses of the cochlea (the hearing part of the inner ear) and auditory nerve. This test is not necessary to diagnose MD.
MRI of the Brain—A type of imaging that uses magnetic energy to look at brain and nerve anatomy. Risks of MRI include:
There is no cure for MD. However, there are ways to help control symptoms. Below are treatments for MD from least to most aggressive:
Diet restrictions: Although not all people get relief with making changes to their diet, it is important to try and see if these changes help to decrease symptoms.
Medications may help reduce the symptoms
Middle ear injections through the ear drum in the affected ear
To assist with your symptoms, your health care provider can help you figure out which things are making you feel bad. This could include sodium (salt), alcohol, caffeine, weather, allergies, and stress.
MD can change how you feel about the way you live your life. Your symptoms may make you feel sick and tired or you may have a hard time hearing or paying attention. Many times, when patients are feeling better, they think about how bad they felt and feel scared. It is important to see your health care provider regularly so they can answer questions and help make you feel better.
You are encouraged to join a support group to gain knowledge, resources, and support from others. Below are some resources that have links to support groups:
Additional educational resources:
1 Cogswell ME, Zhang Z, Carriquiry AL, et al. Sodium and potassium intakes among US adults: NHANES 2003-2008. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96(3):647-657.
Basura GJ, Adams ME, Monfared A, et al. Clinical practice guideline: ménière’s disease. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020;162(2_Suppl):S1-S55.