Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome as a novel cause for Ménière's disease

Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013 Oct;21(5):503-8. doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e32836463bc.


Purpose of review: Several recent reports have described the relation between sleep disorders and inner ear function. There are also many reports that insomnia is observed in Ménière's patients. However, the possibility that obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) might affect Ménière's disease or other neurotological consequences was not noticed, until studies using polysomnography for these patients.

Recent findings: OSAS may cause not only vestibular but also auditory dysfunction. Several reports suggest that insufficient supply of blood via the vertebral basilar artery, which supplies the inner ear, may cause hydropic distension of the endolymphatic system and lead to Ménière's disease. However, few people noticed that in OSAS this insufficient supply might be exacerbated in the night while patients are sleeping. Even more, we should note that Ménière's patients may not only suffer from insomnia, but also that the impaired sleep might be caused by OSAS.

Summary: Physicians routinely prescribe benzodiazepines or other drugs that have hypnotic, muscle relaxing, antianxiety, and anticonvulsant properties for insomnia, but these properties may have the effect of aggravating OSAS symptoms. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is an effective therapy used worldwide for the treatment of OSAS. CPAP or surgeries for OSAS may also be useful as one aspect of treatment for Ménière's disease patients with OSAS.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meniere Disease / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy