Balance and Vestibular Program
Ménière's Disease is an inner ear disorder. Its classic symptoms include:
- episodes of dizziness or vertigo (the sensation that one’s surroundings are spinning)
- unilateral (on one side) hearing loss
- increased tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and a sense of "fullness" in the ear on the affected side
These vertigo episodes can often be severe and incapacitating, and the hearing loss may eventually progress to permanent deafness.
Ménière's Disease results from endolymphatic hydrops, an abnormal swelling of certain structures of the inner ear. However, the exact cause of this swelling is not entirely clear.
Although Ménière's Dsease is often seen in the adult population, children can also be affected by this debilitating inner ear disorder.
How Boston Children's Hospital approaches Ménière's Disease
Ménière's Disease is diagnosed with a series of criteria based on your child’s symptoms:
- Hearing evaluation and vestibular tests can be useful to reveal the affected side.
- Electrophysiological testing, such as Electrocochleography (ECochG) and/or Cochlear Hydrops Analysis Masking Procedure (CHAMP), may be very helpful in the diagnosis.
All of these tests can be done right here at our Balance Program.
The dizziness and vertigo caused by Ménière's Disease can often be treated by a low-salt diet, and occasionally with a medication called a diuretic (“water pill”), both of which help to minimize the swelling in the inner ear that causes symptoms.
Injection of gentamycin or a steroid through the eardrum can also provide relief of symptoms.
- When the dizziness is severe and cannot be controlled with diet and medications, surgery may be needed. A number of different surgical procedures are available to control the dizziness associated with Ménière's Disease, though these are rarely performed in children unless absolutely necessary.