Meniere's Disease vs Labyrinthitis – Symptoms, Causes, Differences

Meniere’s Disease

It is a long-term disorder of the inner ear which causes ringing in the ears (tinnitus), severe dizziness, congestion in the ear, and hearing loss.

The disorder takes its name from Prosper Ménière, a French medical doctor who first suggested that the symptoms came from the inner ear.

MD usually affects only one ear. The other ear is also affected at some stage in approximately 40 percent of patients.

It is thought to be slightly more common in women than men and it most commonly affects people aged 40 to 60.

About 615,000 people in the US have MD, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Symptoms

Symptoms tend to come on as “episodes” that generally last around 2 to 4 hours, but it can take 1 or 2 days for the symptoms to disappear entirely.

Common symptoms include:

  • loud noises may seem unpleasant and distorted;
  • a sense of fullness or pressure inside the ear;
  • tinnitus – it is a noise like a roaring, ringing, or buzzing which you can hear from inside the affected ear;
  • vertigo – it is dizziness with a spinning sensation. You may need to go to bed until it passes. You may feel very dizzy and ill. Vertigo can develop with little or no warning;
  • dulled hearing in the affected ear.

Notemost patients with MD do not experience symptoms between episodes. Additionally, the symptoms and severity of MD vary widely from sufferer to sufferer.

Complications

Vertigo can be deadly if it strikes while you are climbing or driving.

Causes

MD is thought to be caused by a problem with the pressure deep inside the ear.

Risk Factors

Factors that affect the fluid and might contribute to MD include:

  • migraines;
  • improper fluid drainage, most likely due to a blockage or anatomic abnormality;
  • head trauma;
  • abnormal immune response;
  • genetic predisposition;
  • a regular diet rich in sodium;
  • viral infection;
  • allergies.

Diagnosis

A diagnosis of MD requires:

  • tinnitus or a feeling of fullness in the ear;
  • hearing loss verified by a hearing test;
  • 2 episodes of vertigo, each lasting about 20m or longer, however, not longer than 24 hours.

Treatment

Although there is no cure, treatment for the disease can help manage some of the symptoms. Treatments for MD may include:

  • surgery;
  • diet and lifestyle changes, especially a diet low in sodium;
  • medications – antihistamines (they help relieve vomiting, mild nausea, and vertigo) and prochlorperazine (a dopamine receptor antagonist that helps relieve severe vomiting and nausea);
  • some injections into the middle ear may also improve symptoms of vertigo.

Labyrinthitis

It is an inner ear viral infection (your inner ear is important for both balance and hearing), where you can commonly experience feelings of dizziness and vertigo.

This disorder can affect both women and men equally, at any age, although it usually occurs in adults aged 30 to 60 years old.

It is closely related to vestibular neuritis, a disorder that causes vertigo and dizziness and which is caused by a viral infection of one of the vestibular nerves.

Symptomsdizziness

Common symptoms can include:

  • difficulty focusing the eyes;
  • dizziness;
  • loss of hearing in the high-frequency range in one ear;
  • tinnitus, that is characterized by a ringing or buzzing in the ear;
  • vomiting;
  • nausea;
  • loss of balance;
  • vertigo.

Complications

Usually, there are no complications from the disorder, but they can include permanent hearing loss.

Causes

Although there are several potential causes of the disorder, the precise cause is unknown. It may be related to a viral infection, like a cold or the flu, or a bacterial infection like meningitis or a middle ear infection.

The most common offending bacteria for meningitis are Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Risk Factors

You have an increased risk of developing the disorder if you:

  • take over-the-counter medications;
  • smoke tobacco and second-hand smoking;
  • drink large quantities of alcoholic beverages;
  • use some prescription medications;
  • are under extreme emotional stress;
  • are habitually fatigued;
  • have a personal history of allergies.

Diagnosis

It is diagnosed based on your medical history, symptoms, and a physical examination.

Treatment

The treatment for the disorder generally involves using drugs to control the symptoms. Treatment also involves bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

For bacterial labyrinthitis, antibiotics are prescribed based on culture and sensitivity results.

Meniere’s Disease vs Labyrinthitis – Differences

Image credit – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Earplug-foam-in-ear.jpg

Meniere disease is an auditory disease that is characterized by an episodic sudden onset of low-frequency hearing loss, vertigo, low-frequency roaring tinnitus, and sensation of fullness in the affected ear. MD can occur at any age, however, it most commonly affects people aged 40 to 60 years. More than 600,000 people in the United States suffer from MD.

Labyrinthitis is an inflammatory disorder of the inner ear, which causes the labyrinth to become inflamed, affecting the balance and hearing. The most common symptoms of the disorder include vertigo, hearing loss, dizziness, nausea, and loss of balance.

The most common cause of the disorder is a viral infection, like the flu or a cold. Sometimes, a bacterial infection, like – meningitis or a middle ear infection, can cause the disorder.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4807558
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/labyrinthitis
https://www.ata.org/news/news/study-launched-menieres-disease-treatment