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Standard treatment of Ménière’s disease involves dealing with each of the symptoms:

  • Tinnitus: this may be relieved by sound therapy, relaxation techniques and cognitive behaviour therapy. Overall, these do not eliminate the tinnitus but provide coping strategies to allow you to live with it more easily.
  • Vertigo: medication such as prochlorperazine and antihistamines are used during an attack. Tablets that dissolve under the tongue are available for people whose attacks are accompanied by severe nausea or vomiting. These do have side effects such as  prochlorperazine often causes tremors and abnormal facial and bodily movements.
  • Hearing loss: hearing aids can be used to help you hear better, but these have to be chosen carefully as you may be more sensitive to some types of sound compared to others.

A preventive therapy for Ménière’s disease is also available. When taken three times a day, betahistine reduces the pressure in the inner ear and may help to prevent attacks of vertigo and tinnitus.

In the past, around one in 10 patients had Ménière’s disease symptoms that were severe enough to warrant surgery:

  • Destructive surgery essentially destroys the inner ear structures that are responsible for hearing and balance. It is used to stop attacks of vertigo in people who only have one affected ear and who have very little hearing left in that ear. After surgery, they rely on their remaining healthy ear for balance and hearing.
  • Non-destructive surgery aims to increase the drainage of fluid from the inner ear in an attempt to reduce the pressure that is thought to contribute to the symptoms of Ménière’s disease.

More recently, some ear, nose and throat specialists have favoured intra-tympanic injections of either steroids or gentamicin to selectively ablate the cells in the inner ear responsible for vertigo and tinnitus. This Ménière’s disease treatment is far less invasive than surgery and appears to have a reasonably good success rate.

 

Trade names quoted are given as examples only of the drug types described, alternatives may be available.

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