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Meniere's disease

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Meniere’s disease, named after French physician Prosper Ménière was first described in the early 19th century (1)

  • both Ménière's disease and Ménière's syndrome are conditions thought to be caused by an increased pressure within the endolymphatic system. Hence the term endolymphatic hydrops (a swelling of the membranous labyrinth of the inner year) is often used synonymously
    • however Ménière's disease is an idiopathic condition while Ménière's syndrome results  secondary to various processes interfering with normal production or resorption of endolymph e.g. - endocrine abnormalities, trauma, medications, parasitic infections and hyperlipidaemia (2).
  • usually affects only one ear but in around 30% cases both ears may be affected (1)

The incidence is between 1:1000 and 1:2000 of the population (3).

  • both sexes are affected equally (3)
  • generally common in the fourth to sixth decades of life and consequently the incidence of new onset disease is low
  • a GP may expect to come across a new case only a few times in their career (1)

Around 7-10% of sufferers have a family history of the disease. Several studies have reported that similar symptoms were seen in up to 20% of family members (4)

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery created a set of criteria for making a diagnosis of Meniere's disease (5). Utilising these criteria, a survey in Finland revealed a disease prevalence of 43 per 100000 with an annual incidence of 4.3 per 100000 (6).

The condition has been over-diagnosed.

Reference:

  1. Harcourt J, Barraclough K, Bronstein AM. Meniere's disease. BMJ. 2014;349:g6544   
  2. Leong S. Clinical Review - Ménière's disease. GPOnline 2011
  3. Ménière’s disease. Ménière’s society 2013
  4. Sajjadi H, Paparella MM. Meniere's disease. Lancet. 2008;372(9636):406-14. 
  5. Committee on Hearing and Equilibrium guidelines for the diagnosis and evaluation of therapy in Meniere's disease (1995).
  6. Kotimaki J et al (1999). Prevalence of Meniere's disease in Finland. Laryngoscope;109:748-53

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