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Signs of Meniere's Disease

Read this page to find out what the signs of Meniere's disease are. People with Meniere's disease can have 2, 3, or all 4 symptoms.

Hearing loss
At first, Meniere's disease can cause hearing loss that comes and goes. Later on, the hearing loss may get worse over time, and becomes permanent.

Hearing loss in early stages:

  • During an attack, someone may have a sudden hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss may occur with vertigo, tinnitus, or aural fullness during an attack.
  • The hearing loss is usually in the low frequencies, and can range from mild to severe.
  • Speech often sounds distorted or muffled in the affected ear.
  • The hearing often goes back to normal after the attack, in a few hours or in a few days. This is called fluctuating hearing loss.

Hearing loss later on:

  • The hearing loss may not go back to normal after an attack.
  • The hearing loss may become progressive, sometimes to severe or even profound levels, even if the other symptoms go away.
  • Speech may continue to sound distorted or muffled.
  • A person may begin to have symptoms in the ear that was normal before.

Vertigo - when you feel like the room is spinning around
Vertigo is a kind of dizziness that may last several minutes or hours. Vertigo comes in spells.

  • Mild spells - your child might feel a little unsteady on her feet.
  • Bad spells - your child might not be able to stand up. Bad spells of vertigo can make your child feel sick and throw up.

Sometimes just turning the head makes the vertigo worse. This makes sports, driving and just moving around much harder.

Sometimes, people with vertigo have trouble telling where different directions are. They might not know which way is up and which is down.

People with Meniere's disease often say that vertigo is the hardest part of the disease to cope with. But no matter how bad a spell of vertigo is, it eventually goes away.

Tinnitus - ringing in the ears
People with tinnitus hear sounds in their ear that other people cannot hear. Tinnitus sounds different to different people. Some people say it sounds like a hum or buzz. Other people say it sounds like roaring.

Some people with Meniere's get tinnitus right before they get a spell of vertigo. Tinnitus doesn't hurt, but it can be very annoying. It can make children act upset.

Aural fullness - when you feel like your ears should pop
A person with aural fullness feels like his ear has to "pop." Like when you go down an elevator too fast, or when you take off and land in an airplane.

Most people can chew gum or yawn to make their ears pop when they have to. But doing those things won't help with Meniere's disease.

  • People with Meniere's disease may or may not have this symptom.
  • People with Meniere's disease often say that aural fullness is the easiest part of the disease to cope with.

How to find out if your child has Meniere's disease
If you think your child could have Meniere's disease, write down some notes about the signs that you see. Take your child to the doctor, and bring your notes! The doctor may ask you about the signs, and then run some tests on your child. The tests include:

  • hearing tests, like ABR and OAE
  • tympanometry
  • electronystagmography (ENG) to test balance
  • posturography, another test of balance

It is especially helpful to have these tests done while the person is having a Meniere's attack.

Next: How you can help your child

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