Ménière's disease mən-yĕrz´ [key], disorder of the inner ear characterized by recurrent vertigo combined with hearing loss and tinnitus (a ringing sensation). It was first described by the French otologist Prosper Ménière, in 1861. The sufferer experiences severe dizziness, in which objects may seem to spin around, and often nausea, vomiting, and sweating. Attacks may last for several hours. In the disorder, which occurs most often in men between the ages of 40 and 60, the symptoms are the result of abnormally large amounts of a fluid (endolymph) collecting in the inner ear, but the exact cause of the disease or of the trigger for an attack is unclear. The disease is most typically treated by a reduced-sodium diet and diurectics; an acute attack may be treated by medications that control the vertigo and nausea. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy is sometimes used to help patient cope with the sense of imbalance that may occur between attacks. Surgical procedures that relieve the condition include vestibular neurectomy, labyrinthectomy, sacculotomy (placement of a stainless steel tack through the footplate of the stapes), ultrasonic irradiation, endolymphatic-subarachnoid shunt, and cryosurgery for relief of frequent vertiginous attacks and degenerative hearing.
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