Meniere’s Syndrome

Meniere’s Syndrome

Although the following information is generally accepted amongst those who treat patients with Ménière’s syndrome, this information is not intended to preclude proper diagnosis and management by our office, or another qualified health professional.  This information is offered for ease of communication with our patients and in good faith.

Because individuals with Ménière’s Syndrome invariably suffer with dysequilibrium which will develop associated with vertigo symptoms and dizziness, and thus increased risk of fall, we urge you to contact our office ASAP for a free CAPS balance test.  There is no charge and no obligation associated as this is offered as a free community service.  Or, if you prefer, you would be well served to review our FREE report for vertigo and dizziness victims.  You can now receive an electronic version of this report simply by joining our mailing list, so that you may be added to our special medical advisory, and be informed of valuable  information, also free of charge, which is disseminated as the doctor deems appropriate.  Our E-News is free and you may unsubscribe at any time.  You can access the link to the free report simply by joining our E-News Service.

General Dietary Suggestions for Hydrops/Ménière’s Syndrome as a Cause of Dizziness

The fluid-filled hearing and balance structures of the inner ear normally function independent of the body’s overall fluid/blood system. In a normal inner ear, the fluid is maintained at a constant volume and contains specific concentrations of sodium, potassium, chloride, and other electrolytes. With Ménière’s syndrome as a cause of dizziness, volume and concentration of the inner ear fluid fluctuate with changes in the body’s fluid/blood. This fluctuation causes the vertiginous meniere’s symptoms of Hydrops/Ménière’s — pressure or fullness in the ears, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hearing loss, dizziness, imbalance and typically severe, long duration vertigo symptoms.

Diet and Dizziness

Your inner ear fluid is influenced by certain substances in your blood and other body fluids. For instance, when you eat foods that are high in salt or sugar, your blood level concentration of salt or sugar increases, and this, in turn, will affect the concentration of substances in your inner ear. People with Ménière’s syndrome must control the amount of salt and sugar that is added to food. You must also become aware of the hidden salts and sugars that foods contain. Limiting or eliminating your use of caffeine and alcohol will also help reduce vertigo symptoms and dizziness and ringing in the ears( tinnitus), associated with Meniere’s symptoms.

Dietary Goals in Menieres Treatment

The overall goal in managing Meniere’s syndrome is to provide stable body fluid/blood levels so that secondary fluctuations in inner ear fluid can be avoided. The following steps will help you achieve this goal.

Limit sodium to less than 1000 mg daily. You must read package labeling for mg of sodium per serving, and multiply by how many servings you plan to eat to calculate the amount of sodium per meal.

Distribute your food and fluid intake evenly throughout the day and from day to day. Eat approximately the same amount of food at each meal, and do not skip meals. If you eat snacks, have them at regular times.

Avoid taking in foods or fluids that have a high salt or sugar content. High salt or sugar levels in the diet result in fluctuations in the inner ear fluid pressure and may increase your symptoms. Aim for a diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in canned, frozen, or processed foods.

Drink adequate amounts of fluid daily. This should include primarily water. Avoid fruit juice, especially those formulated with fructose, sucrose, aspartame or other sweeteners. Coffee, tea, and soft drinks should not be counted as a part of this intake, and, should be avoided with Ménière’s syndrome altogether.

Avoid caffeine-containing fluids and foods (such as coffee, tea, and chocolate). Caffeine is a diuretic that causes excessive urinary loss of fluids.

Limit or eliminate your alcohol intake. Alcohol can affect the inner ear directly, changing the volume and concentration of the inner ear fluid and increasing symptoms. 1-2 glasses of red wine daily has been demonstrated to be helpful for relieving stress and preventing heart disease, however, if Ménière’s symptoms continue, even this should be discontinued.

Avoid foods containing MSG (monosodium glutamate). This is often present in pre-packaged food products and in Chinese food. It may increase symptoms in some Meniere’s patients.

Keep a written log of date of onset and duration of symptomatology associated with Meniere’s episodes. This way you can reflect back over time to see if your diet has been effective.

Drug Considerations in Menieres Treatment

Avoid aspirin and medications that contain aspirin. These can increase tinnitus and dizziness associated with Meniere’s syndrome.

Avoid caffeine-containing medications.

Pay attention to the content of all over-the-counter medications as well as drugs prescribed by physicians for other problems. Some may increase Meniere’s symptoms.

Avoid cigarettes. The nicotine present in cigarettes constricts blood vessels and will decrease the blood supply to the inner ear, making your Meniere’s symptoms worse.

You may consider discussing a diuretic medication with your PCP.

Dr. Scopelliti is a Functional Neurologist in Monmouth County NJ.