Unfortunately, there is currently (and for the foreseeable future) no known cure for Meniere’s Disease. At best, Meniere’s patients can make lifestyle changes that limit the severity of symptoms. Some strategies are very tangible, while other strategies come down to mindset alone. Below is a compiled list of lifestyle changes that have shown significant effect in improving the lives of Meniere’s patients.
What you choose to consume is perhaps the most important factor in Meniere’s symptoms. The most common symptom triggers are caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and salt. Thus, avoiding or limiting these goes a long way in reducing symptoms. If you’re dependent on caffeine in the morning to find your focus, then you might try natural alternatives such as Vitamin B12, ginseng, and even calming music. Adopting a low-salt diet (1,500-2,000 mg per day) is extremely important. The more salt you consume, the more water that your body retains. There’s evidence suggesting that this high water retention correlates to aural fullness – one of the common Meniere’s symptoms. Eat whole foods (preferably non-GMO and organic) instead of processed foods. This is a generally healthy practice with loads of benefits. Additionally, it’s worth getting an allergy test done to see if you have any hidden food allergies. Food allergies and sensitivities are known to cause acute migraines and even tinnitus.
Vestibular rehabilitation exercises are designed to help retrain your brain to account for the balance abnormalities in your system. The goal is to retrain the ability of the ears, eyes, muscles and brain to process balance information correctly. A provider such as an audiologist or physical therapist with a vestibular background can provide at-home exercises customized to you to improve the lingering imbalance between attacks.
No matter your condition, general healthy habits can have a significant impact on one’s day to day experience. Some of these healthy habits include:
Get plenty of sleep on a regular schedule.
Exercise frequently with whatever level of activity you can handle without triggering symptoms.
Remain consistent with the time and amount of food you consume daily being sure not to skip any meals.
Adequate fluid intake throughout the day is necessary including water and juice (low-sugar), especially to replenish fluids secondary to hot climates and physical exercise.
Manage your stress levels by finding relaxation techniques you can do anytime and anywhere.
Accept that restful time is medicine, not laziness.
There are a variety of medications that may be recommended for specific symptoms of Meniere’s Disease. Some of them include:
Motion sickness drugs: These medications include meclizine (Antivert) and diazepam (Valium). These are meant to alleviate the spinning sensation that vertigo causes, as well as the nausea and vomiting.
Drugs for nausea: Prochlorperazine (Compazine) is an effective medication for treating nausea during an episode of vertigo.
Diuretics: These drugs reduce fluid retention in the body. For Ménière’s Disease, doctors might prescribe a combination of triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide (Dyazide or Maxzide).
Aspirin is known to cause tinnitus and should be avoided.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that 615,000 people in the United States have Meniere’s Disease. This means you’re not alone and finding support from others is plentiful. Specifically, there’s an active community on The Mighty as well as a great blog called Mind Over Meniere’s that brings together Meniere’s patients with common experiences. Sharing your experiences with others who are struggling with the same experiences can help lift your spirits. Especially if no one physically around you truly understands what you’re going through.
It’s easy to lose hope after being diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. The thought of living life with tinnitus, vertigo, ear fullness, and potentially hearing loss is frightening. Especially when there doesn’t appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel. But there is hope. There is hope that your symptoms can be lessened. Maybe not to a state of complete normalcy. But to a better place than now. When asked about living with Parkinson’s, Michael J. Fox replied, “I don’t have any choice whether or not I have Parkinson’s, but surrounding that non-choice are a million other choices that I can make.” The same goes for those with Meniere’s Disease. Focus on the things you can control – your general health and lifestyle, how you respond to your emotions, the way you carry yourself every day. Glenn Schweitzer, the founder of Mind Over Meniere’s says, “You’re never going to fight as hard for your health to improve your symptoms if you just think that your situation is hopeless.” Many find that yoga, meditation, tai chi, and mindfulness practices help them find a sense of inner peace with their situation. A sort of healthy co-existence with their condition that breeds hope. Meniere’s Disease is not a complete termination of life. But it is a shock to the system that requires ongoing management of diet and lifestyle. If you or someone you know has Meniere’s Disease, please give us a call at (310) 954-2207 or schedule an appointment with one of our balance specialists. The Dizzy & Vertigo Institute specializes in bringing dizzy patients back to an asymptomatic life. And we can help you design a plan to lessen your symptoms. We’re located in Los Angeles, California and have options for you if you live in another state. We look forward to hearing from you!