At the time of the American Civil War a French physician named Prosper Meniere described several symptoms that were new and different. He described individuals who experienced symptoms of vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus and aural fullness. Meniere examined their ears after their deaths and found blood in the inner ear. He suspected that this was the cause of their symptoms. While Meniere described the effects of leukemia on the inner ear, today we associate his name with the same symptoms caused by an unknown source. Meniere's disease may cause any or all of these systems over a longer period of time.
What is the problem?
The current theory is that Meniere's disease is caused by an imbalance in the fluid pressure between different compartments of the inner ear . The compartment containing endolymph is the center of the inner ear. The endolymphatic compartment is believed to build up excess pressure and cause swelling. Because the inner ear is entirely encapsulated in bone, there is no place for the swelling to go. As a result of this it causes damage to the small hair cells in the inner ear. This can also result in tears in the membranes. Fluids then are chemically mixed together effectively "short-circuiting" the inner ear. Each time these abnormalities occur, a patient experiences severe symptoms of an attack. Once the pressure has been released, the membrane begins to heal and the fluid chemistry returns to normal. When this is completed, the patient is relieved of the symptoms. It is important to remember that this is all theory supported by some research in this area.