This medical condition is considered a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance to a varying degree. It is characterized by episodes of vertigo, dizziness and tinnitus with progressive hearing loss and sensation of plugged ear. In most of the patients the hearing loss is unilateral. The first publication of this tetrad belongs to the French physician Prosper Ménière (1861). He was the first who related vertigo to inner ear pathology. The severity of this medical condition is individual. It can range in severity from being a mild tolerable discomfort to a prolonged and debilitating medical condition.
Tinnitus is defined as a complaint. The sufferer of tinnitus tells that he is hearing sound. It can be continuous, fixed, pulsating, having ups and downs, weak or strong.
If the sound can be heard by the medical doctor or detected by a sensitive recording systems, it is called: objective tinnitus. A typical tinnitus in Meniere's disease is not objective tinnitus, and comes in attacks of weeks to months. In Meniere's disease and in most of the tinnitus sufferers the tinnitus is a subjective tinnitus.
When another sound can cause inability of the patient to listen to the tinnitus, the sound of tinnitus is called a maskable tinnitus.
Vertigo is defined as a sensation of spinning. It can be a sensation that the head of the patient is moving, or the head is steady and the environment is spinning. A typical attack lasts few minutes to few hours, or even days. Attacks of vertigo are included in the essential criteria for establishing Meniere's disease diagnosis. When the patients reports of few seconds with a sensation that he may fall, but there is no component of spinning, it is called: Dizziness. In many patients there is a combination of vertigo and dizziness.
Plugged ears is a subjective complaint. It may last short time or remain days or even weeks or months. When Meniere's disease symptoms are present it is very possible that the complaint of plugged ears is not indicator of blocked Eustachian tube. The clinician should be careful in order to prevent unnecessary surgical procedures in the ears of his patient.
Hearing loss may appear during the time. It is essential criteria for the diagnosis of Meniere's Disease. There is no symmetry between the Audiograms of the two ears.
The severity of hearing loss or hearing impairment may change in the same patient of Meniere's disease when several audiograms are done. It may be a surprise to find that this symptom like the other Meniere's disease symptoms may have ups and downs when it is monitored frequently.
When the Meniere's disease symptoms are making the patient scared, he may have psychological symptoms that are reactive to the biological symptoms of Meniere's Disease. Disturbances in the "Biological Clock" such as inability to fall asleep, hyperacusis (severe sensitivity to sound or noise), anxiety, irritability and low productivity at work are common complaints.
The recent interest in the classification of sensitivity to noise can not be explained by the classical model of Meniere's disease. The 4 types of this sensitivity are: recruitment, hyperacute hearing, phonophobia and misophonia.