Ménière's Disease is a rare condition affecting the inner ear. It can cause tinnitus, hearing loss, vertigo attacks and a feeling of pressure deep within the ear and is a long term but non-fatal illness, making it low profile in scientific community.
But 160,000 sufferers in the UK are getting some help from the University of Exeter Medical School, which has been able to suggest what goes wrong in the body when people develop the disease, and provide an insight into factors that lead to its development.
Why people develop
and how symptoms occur have so far remained unclear, making diagnosis and treatment a difficult task, but with funding from the UK Ménière's Society and data from the UK Biobank, the research team analyzed records from 1,376 Ménière's sufferers and found the disease is more prevalent in females, those from white backgrounds, and older people. Individuals from poorer backgrounds were also found to be more likely to develop the disease, as well as those who are overweight.
By comparing and contrasting their data with nearly half a million people without the condition, the team also discovered that Ménière's Disease is linked to immune system disorders and diseases related to the autonomic nervous system, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn's Disease and arthritis.
Lead researcher Dr. Jessica Tyrrell said, "This study has provided several advances in our understanding of Ménière's Disease. It seems likely that a dysfunctional immune system has some role in the development of the illness, and other factors, including the nervous system, are also playing a part."
The analysis also showed that Ménière's patients were more likely to suffer falls and mental health problems, such as depression, than people without the condition.