Children's Hospital Colorado
Ear, Nose and Throat

Meniere’s Disease in Children

Kids aren’t just mini adults. In fact, they’re incredibly different. That’s why they need incredibly different care.

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What is Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease is a chronic disorder, meaning it can affect someone throughout their lifetime. The disease affects the inner ear, causing hearing loss and vertigo (spinning dizziness). Episodes can last 20 minutes to a full day, but most people experience episodes lasting several hours. These episodes of dizziness can be debilitating, and the accompanying vertigo can be very intense.

Hearing loss also occurs after Meniere’s disease attacks and usually gets worse with each additional episode. The hearing loss is permanent and can occur gradually or in sudden big drops in hearing. The hearing loss can fluctuate, but generally gets worse with each episode. It can occur in both ears but usually occurs in just one.

What causes Meniere’s disease?

The true cause of Meniere’s disease is still unknown, but the medical community has some theories. Many believe extra endolymph (fluid in the inner ear) leads to increased pressure inside the inner ear labyrinth, which causes an episode. It’s unclear if the excess endolymph results from excessive production, poor draining or an overall lack of steady volume of inner ear fluid. Some guesses as to why people with Meniere’s disease have excess fluid in their inner ear include:

  • Abnormal immune response
  • Genetic disposition
  • Reactions to certain food
  • Stress
  • Viral infection

Who gets Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease mostly affects adults, but children can sometimes get it during adolescence. Most often, Meniere’s disease begins between the ages of 40 and 60 and occurs in women more often than men. People who have a family member diagnosed with Meniere’s disease are more prone to developing this disorder. Since this disorder is so rare in children, our doctors always recommend children undergo a thorough examination to rule out more common pediatric vestibular disorders (disorders affecting balance) prior to getting a Meniere’s disease diagnosis.

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