Meniere's Disease Vs. Lupus

Reviewed on 9/2/2020

What Are Ménière’s Disease and Lupus?

Lupus and Meniere's disease are unrelated and largely dissimilar, though both may cause balance problems.
Lupus and Meniere's disease are unrelated and largely dissimilar, though both may cause balance problems.

Ménière’s disease (also called idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops) is an inner ear disorder that causes problems with hearing and balance. Ménière’s disease usually only affects one ear. 

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain, commonly in the skin, joints, and internal organs such as the heart and kidneys, though it can affect any part of the body. 

What Are Symptoms of Ménière’s Disease and Lupus That Are Similar?

Loss of balance is a symptom of both Ménière’s disease and lupus. However, dizziness and spinning sensation (vertigo) that may cause loss of balance are hallmark signs of Ménière’s disease while loss of balance is an uncommon symptom of lupus

What Are Symptoms of Ménière’s Disease and Lupus That Are Different?

Symptoms of Ménière’s disease usually only affect one ear and include

  • Severe dizziness 
  • Spinning sensation (vertigo)
    • Episodes may come on suddenly and last several minutes to a few hours
    • Severe vertigo in which patients lose their balance and fall (“drop attacks”)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Hearing loss
    • May become permanent over time
  • Feeling of fullness, congestion, or pressure in the ear

Common symptoms of lupus include

  • Extreme fatigue 
  • Pain or swelling in the joints
  • Swelling in the hands, feet, or around the eyes
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Chest pain when inhaling deeply
  • Butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and nose 
  • Hair loss
  • Sores in the mouth or nose
  • Fingers and toes turning white or blue and feeling numb when exposed to cold or stress (Raynaud’s disease)

What Causes Ménière’s Disease and Lupus?

The symptoms of Ménière’s disease are caused by the buildup of fluid in the part of the inner ear called the labyrinth, which contains the organs of balance.

The exact cause of Ménière’s disease us unknown but it may be due to

  • Constrictions in blood vessels similar to those that cause migraine headaches 
  • A consequence of viral infections or allergies
  • An autoimmune reaction
  • Genetics (Ménière’s disease appears to run in families)

The cause of lupus is also unknown, though it is believed to have genetic, hormonal, and/or environmental triggers. 

How Are Ménière’s Disease and Lupus Diagnosed?

There is no definitive test used to diagnose Ménière’s disease. Diagnosis may be based upon a patient’s medical history and the presence of the following symptoms:

  • Two or more episodes of vertigo lasting at least 20 minutes each
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Temporary hearing loss
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear

Tests that may be ordered to confirm a diagnosis of Ménière’s disease or to rule out other conditions include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan of the brain
  • Balance testing
  • Hearing test (audiometry)
  • Blood tests to check for infection or hormone problems, such as diabetes

There is no single test to diagnose lupus. Tests that may help diagnose the condition include:

  • Blood tests 
  • Complete blood count (CBC
  • Antibody tests 
  • Blood clotting time tests 
  • Complement tests 
  • Urine tests
  • Tissue biopsies

QUESTION

Ear infection or acute otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. See Answer

What Is the Treatment for Ménière’s Disease and Lupus?

There is no cure for Ménière’s disease. Treatments are aimed at helping patients manage the condition.

  • Medications to relieve dizziness and shorten attacks
  • Cognitive therapy 
  • Injections into the middle ear 
  • Pressure pulse treatment
  • Hearing aids for hearing loss
  • Physical therapy exercises to help with balance 
  • Dietary and lifestyle modifications
    • Salt restriction and diuretics (water pills) can help control dizziness by reducing the amount of fluid the body retains
    • Limiting or avoiding trigger foods
    • Patients should not smoke and should avoid nicotine
  • Surgery (last resort)

Lupus is generally treated with medications that can help manage symptoms, such as:

  • Anticoagulants to help prevent blood clots
  • Anti-inflammatories and steroids to help with inflammation
  • Antimalarials to protect skin from rashes and UV light
  • Biologics that can help boost the immune system 
  • Immunosuppressives to help keep the immune system from attacking the body

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Reviewed on 9/2/2020
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