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Meniere’s Disease and Diet

Meniere’s Disease and Diet


The fluid in your ears normally maintains a constant volume. This fluid contains sodium, potassium, chloride, and other electrolytes. With injury or disease, the volume and composition of this fluid might change. This is what is thought to cause the symptoms of Ménière’s disease, including the pressure, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, dizziness, nausea, and loss of balance.

Dietary modifications
These recommendations are part of what is known as the hydrops diet, which is recommended for people with Ménière’s disease. Hydrops is the term used to describe increased pressure in the ear. The diet recommendations follow.

Meals
Eat small meals regularly, and try to eat about the same amount of food each day. Try to eat something every 4–5 hours, and always take snacks along when you are out and about.

Sugar and sodium
Avoid foods with a high-sugar or a high-sodium content. Choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, rather than the refined carbohydrates found in snack foods and sweets. The best way to reduce the sodium content of your diet is to choose fresh foods instead of processed foods, whenever possible. Have your physician determine your daily sodium limit. Some experts believe that the consistency of sodium intake is even more important than the amount of sodium that you consume, so it is important that you consume roughly the same amount of sodium each day.

Fluids
Make sure you drink enough fluid each day. Drink extra fluids if you are outside for an extended period of time on a hot day or when you exercise.

Caffeine and alcohol
Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can lead to dehydration. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make the ringing sounds in the ear louder, and alcohol can change the composition of your ear fluid. You also should avoid taking medications that contain caffeine, but before discontinuing any medication, speak with your doctor.

Tyramine
If you have migraines, avoid foods that contain a high amount of tyramine (an amino acid). These foods include red wine, chicken liver, smoked meats, yogurt, chocolate, bananas, citrus fruits, figs, ripened cheeses, and nuts.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Avoid foods that contain MSG.

Other recommendation and options
People with Ménière’s disease should avoid nicotine. They also should consult with their physician about which medications to avoid.

Treatment options
The following are treatment options for people with Ménière’s disease:

  • If all other treatment options have failed, surgery may become necessary
  • Although no studies prove effectiveness, some people with Ménière’s disease have tried acupuncture, acupressure, tai chi, gingko biloba, niacin, or ginger root—always tell your health care providers if you are trying these or other alternative therapies
  • Some prescription drugs can help with dizziness and nausea
  • Cognitive therapy can help people cope with the unexpected nature of Ménière’s disease
  • Antibiotics injected into the ears can help to control vertigo, but raise the risk of hearing loss
  • Corticosteroid injections can help to reduce dizziness and carry no risk of hearing loss
  • The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved a device that fits into the outer ear and delivers intermittent air pressure pulses to the middle ear to act on endolymph fluid and prevent dizziness

 

References and recommended readings

Hain TC. Ménière’s disease.
Available at: http://www.tchain.com/otoneurology/disorders/menieres/menieres.html.
Accessed January 9, 2011.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Ménière’s disease.
Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/balance/meniere.asp.
Accessed January 9, 2011.

Vestibular Disorders Association. Dietary considerations.
Available at: http://www.vestibular.org/vestibular-disorders/treatment/diet.php.
Accessed January 9, 2011.

 

Review Date 2/11
G-1519

 

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