A Historical Recount: Discovering Menière's Disease and Its Association With Migraine Headaches

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Abstract

Objectives:

In evaluating the historical context of the first description of Menière's disease, its association with migraine headaches is compelling. We have outlined the events and observations of Prosper Menière, which led him to establish a link between migraine headaches and his eponymous disease.

Study Design:

Prosper Menière's original French writings were translated by our group and used to recount his observations and thoughts. Miles Atkinson's English translations were used as a reference. Additional otological texts of the era were also reviewed as it relates to Menière's disease.

Methods:

Prosper Menière wrote a series of four articles 1 year before his death. In one of these articles, he makes references to migraine headaches on several occasions. These original writings were analyzed, and the physical findings he described were interpreted based on their relation to migraine headaches.

Results:

The passages in his published articles provide historical insight into Menière's observations. His writings describe in detail symptoms of migraine headaches uniquely evident in his patient population. Through his observations, he recognized that in addition to exhibiting symptoms of tinnitus, hearing loss and vertigo his patients also suffered from migraine headaches.

Conclusions:

Although his colleagues discounted Menière's theory concerning migraine headaches, he continued to make deductive inferences and publish his findings, leading to the association of migraine headaches and Menière's disease. Today, this association continues to be debated, adding to Prosper Menière's legacy.

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