Endolymphatic hydrops is one of several disorders that can affect the inner ear's vestibular system, which is the system responsible for regulating balance. Researchers don't know concretely what causes the disease, but the leading theory is there are abnormal fluctuations in the endolymph fluid, which fills the balance and hearing structures within the inner ear. Because of the fluctuations, the endolymphatic space becomes distended, an issue researchers call endolymphatic hydrops.
There are two main types of the condition: primary and secondary. The primary idiopathic version is also called Meniere's disease, and no cause is currently known. The secondary version occurs due to an event like an allergy, autoimmune disorder, head trauma, or other underlying condition.
One of the most important things when managing endolymphatic hydrops is to stay hydrated. Individuals may want to stay away from alcohol and caffeine, as these substances can dehydrate them and cause unwanted symptom flareups. Patients with secondary endolymphatic hydrops tend to have more continuous symptoms than those with Meniere's disease. By contrast, Meniere's disease presents with sudden episodes that are more intense and violent in scope. Secondary endolymphatic hydrops might also not cause as much long-term damage to hearing.
Hydration is important for treating secondary endolymphatic hydrops because adequate water and electrolyte levels can help stabilize the fluid in the ear. While this won't cure the condition, it can decrease the frequency and severity of attacks for both subtypes. Affected individuals should make sure they're getting the right amounts of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. They can talk to a doctor about the best ways for them to hydrate. Patients should, however, try to avoid overhydrating, as this can cause their body to purge fluid and leave them more dehydrated than before. Doctors will typically have a treatment plan that includes lifestyle and diet changes.