Symptoms of Ménière's disease

The symptoms of Mnire's disease vary from person to person. They often beginas sudden attacks, lasting fora few hours. Some people may experience several attacks each week or they may be separated by weeks, months or even years.

See your GP if you experience any of the symptoms of Mnire's disease, so they can try to identify the problem and refer you to a specialist, if necessary.

Main symptoms

The main symptoms ofMnire's disease are:

  • vertigo the sensation that you, or the environment around you, is moving or spinning
  • tinnitus hearing sounds from insideyour body, rather than from an outside source
  • Hearing impairment , with a particular difficulty hearing deep or low sounds
  • a sense of pressure or fullnessdeep inside theear

These symptomsusually only affect one ear at first, but both earsoften become affected over time.

Vertigo and tinnitus are described in more detail below.


Vertigo is one of the most common and noticeable symptoms of Mnire's disease.

As well as a sensation of spinning, you may also experience additional symptoms during an attack of vertigo, such as dizziness, feeling or being sick, and problems with balance. You may have difficulty standing or walking. Occasionally, you may have "drop attacks", where you suddenly fall to the ground.

During a severe attack,you mayalso experience sweating, diarrhoea and rapid or irregular heartbeats.


Tinnitus is usually more noticeable when you're tired or when it's quiet, as there's less background noise to distract you from sounds coming from inside your body.

Examples ofsounds you may hear include buzzing, humming, grinding, hissing and whistling.

Stages of Mnire's disease

Mnire's disease is oftendivided into early, middle and late stages.

However, the progression of Mnire's disease varies between individuals. You may not necessarily pass through each of these stages and the severity of the symptoms may also vary. In general, people experience more attacks during the first few years, and then as the attacks decrease in frequency over time, the hearing loss becomes progressively worse.

Some or all of the followingsymptoms may be experienced before an attack:

  • loss of balance
  • dizziness and lightheadedness
  • headache and increased ear pressure
  • increased hearing loss or tinnitus
  • sensitivity to sound
  • a feeling of uneasiness

If a person is aware of these warning symptoms, it can allowthem to move to a safer or more comfortable situation before an attack.

The stages of Mnire's disease are described in more detail below.

Early stage

The early stage of Mnire's disease consists of sudden and unpredictable attacks of vertigo. These are usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting and dizziness. You may lose some hearing during the attack, andyou may experiencetinnitus at the same time. Your ear may also feel blocked and uncomfortable, with a sense of fullness. Some people may also experience sensitivity to sound.

Attacks of vertigo at this stage can last from 20 minutes to 24 hours, but usually last around two to three hours. Your hearing and the full sensation in your ear usually returns to normal between attacks.

Middle stage

The middle stage of Mnire's disease consists of continuing attacks of vertigo, with the attacks becoming less severe for some people. However, tinnitus and hearing loss often become worse.

During the middle stage, you may experience some periods of remission (where your symptoms go away), which can last for up to several months. Some people may still experience symptoms of tinnitus, sensitivity to sound or loss of balance between attacks of vertigo.

Late stage

During the late stage of Mnire's disease, the episodes of vertigo occur far less frequently. There may be months or even several years between attacks orthey may stop altogether. However, you may be left with balance problems, and you may be unsteady on your feet, particularly in the dark.

Hearing problems and tinnitustend tobecome progressively worse during the late stage of Mnire's disease.

Vertigo is the sensation that you or the environment around you is moving or spinning.

Tinnitus is the medical name for the perception of noise in one ear, both ears or in the head. The noise comes from inside the brain rather than an outside source.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 5 Jan 2017