Objective: To explore whether acute acoustic trauma or noise-induced hearing loss may cause the later development of Ménière's Disease.
Study design: Retrospective search of a military medical data bank.
Setting: Medical records of 17245 Israel Defense Force veterans who were recognized as being disabled as a result of acoustic trauma or noise-induced hearing loss.
Patients: Eleven cases of late-onset Ménière's Disease were retrieved from these files.
Main outcome measures: Documented symptoms and audiograms.
Results: Eleven of the 17425 veterans appeared to have typical Ménière's Disease. Their symptoms included attacks of vertigo, lasting between half an hour and a few hours and no more than 24 hours; the sensation of aural fullness; and tinnitus accompanied by a fluctuating or permanent low-tone hearing loss. Four of the 11 patients had a documented previous noise-induced hearing loss, and the remaining 7 had experienced acute acoustic trauma. The Ménière's Disease was bilateral in three cases. The average period between the first documented hearing loss and the onset of Ménière's Disease was 15.8 years (standard deviation, +/- 6.6 years). This yielded a prevalence of 1.9:100000 of Ménière's Disease in a population with acoustic trauma or noise-induced hearing loss-a figure comparable to that in the general population.
Conclusions: No support was found for the hypothesis that Ménière's Disease may be causally related to previous acoustic trauma or noise-induced hearing loss.