DEAR DOCTOR K: I've been feeling dizzy and have had a constant ringing in my ears. My doctor has diagnosed me with Meniere's disease. What is this, and what can be done to treat it?
DEAR READER: In Meniere's disease, fluid collects in the inner ear. The inner ear is a complex system that is critical to both hearing and balance. Sound waves hit a membrane (the "eardrum") in the middle ear. The vibrations of the membrane are transmitted to tiny bones in the middle ear, and then to another membrane that starts the inner ear. Inside the inner ear is a snail-shaped structure called the cochlea. The cochlea transforms sound waves into nerve impulses that the brain can interpret. That's how we hear.