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Last Modified Sunday, November 30, 2014


Prognosis of Meniere's Disease
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Table of Contents

  • There is No Cure for Meniere's Disease
  • Meniere's Disease is Progressive
  • Temporary Spontaneous Remission
  • Progression to a Bilateral Condition
  • Progression to "Burnout"
  • Treatment
  • Deafness
  • Disability
     
  • There is no cure for Meniere's Disease.
    • There is no known cause of Meniere's Disease, there is no known cure for Meniere's Disease, and there is no cure on the horizon.  That's not "negative thinking"; that's simply the fact of the matter and there is no point in denying it or offering false or gratuitous hope.  Click here to see the latest research.  The good news is that Meniere's Disease is not fatal, that there are many possible "symptomatic" treatments (treatments for the symptoms) with which patients can try to lessen or at least manage their symptoms, and that some patients experience temporary spontaneous remissions of varying periods of time.  However, some patients are unresponsive to virtually all treatments, including invasive surgery, and will become disabled.  See the other pages of this website for further information.
  • Meniere's Disease is progressive.
    • The symptoms of Meniere's Disease worsen, more slowly in some and more quickly in others.
  • There is treatment for Meniere's Disease.
    • Although Meniere's Disease is incurable in a literal sense, the good news is that many symptomatic treatments (treatments of the symptoms) are available. Treatment ranges from low-salt diets to invasive intra-cranial (brain) surgery.  Symptoms in many, many, cases can be treated and managed with varying degrees of success. Many people lead productive, near-normal lives; others face greater challenges in coping. No one treatment seems to work for all of us. Do not despair. It may take you a while to find out which treatment works best for you. Many patients get second, third, fourth, fifth, and more opinions both for diagnosis and for treatment options. It may be necessary to travel to a location that has the necessary diagnostic equipment for and experience in treating Meniere's Disease. It may be necessary for you to consult with many different doctors before you find the right doctor for you.  Sadly, some patients are unresponsive to most or even all treatment.
    • Visit our treatment page, and our doctors page.
  • Temporary spontaneous remission.
    • Some patients experience periods of temporary remission (absence of some or all symptoms) for no ostensible reason (spontaneous). Some temporary spontaneous remissions continue for many years. Other temporary spontaneous remissions may last only months, weeks, or days.
  • Progression from "atypical" Meniere's Disease to "classic" Meniere's Disease.
    • Some, but not all, patients diagnosed with one of the two "atypical" forms of Meniere's Disease (having three of the four "classic symptoms," but lacking either the symptom of hearing loss or the symptom of vertigo)  will progress to "classic" Meniere's Disease (all four symptoms).  (See our Symptoms Page.)
  • Progression to a bilateral condition.
    • If you are affected in only one ear, that is said to be "unilateral" (one-sided).  If you are affected in both ears, that is said to be "bilateral" (two-sided).  While "classic" Meniere's Disease affects only one ear, some patients "go bi," meaning bilateral; they experience symptoms in both ears. How many patients go bi? That's a widely debated subject; estimates range from 10-15% (Merck Manual) to at least as high as 20-60% (University of Kansas).
  • Progression to "burnout." 
    • Some doctors say that Meniere's "burns itself out," leading patients to falsely believe that Meniere's will simply fade away and that they will be "cured." 
    • However, "burnout" refers to a condition where Meniere's has progressed to the point where it has finally destroyed, nearly or totally, the vestibular function of the affected ear or ears.
    • When a patient reaches burnout, the patient has little or no vestibular function left the affected ear or ears, and therefore the patient no longer experiences acute attacks of rotational vertigo, although some dizziness may remain if the vestibular function is not totally destroyed.
    • However, with the lack of vestibular function in the affected ear or ears, balance is a problem and the body may or may not compensate in other ways.  Any vestibular function remaining in the unaffected, or less affected, ear may take over and/or the patient may learn to balance through visual cues (with difficulty in darkness).  In this situation, many patients benefit greatly from vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT). 
    • But nothing stops the relentless destruction of Meniere's, and it will continue to destroy hearing, produce the sense of fullness, and produce tinnitus -- even in patients who are deaf because of Meniere's or otherwise. 
    • Some patients have anecdotally reached burnout after roughly eight years; however, anecdotally, some may take more time, some may take less time, and some patients may never reach burnout.  For any one given patient, It is not possible to predict whether burnout will happen at all or, if it does, how long that might take.  For those who do progress to burnout, the body may or may not compensate well, and, unfortunately, there is always the possibility of developing bilateral Meniere's. 
    • Not all doctors (and not all patients) agree that "burnout" can or will happen.
    • More information:
  • Deafness.
    • Some (but not all) patients become totally or functionally deafened in one or both ears.
  • Disability.
    • Some (but not all) patients become totally or functionally disabled by vertigo, deafness, and/or tinnitus.
    • Visit our disability page.

Copyright © 1997-2014 Meniere's Disease Information Center.  All rights are reserved.
All copying, including (but not limited to) websites, bulletin boards, forums, and blogs, is prohibited.
Click here for more copyright information.