Recommended diet for patients of Meniere’s disease

Meniere's disease

According to experts at Maroof International Hospital, Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear, which affects the hearing and balance. While there is no cure for this disease, medication, lifestyle changes and diet can mitigate the disease symptoms. Read on to know more about Meniere’s disease and the dietary changes recommended for this illness:

What is Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease is a disorder characterized by triad of disabling vertigo, hearing loss and ringing noise in the ear (tinnitus). Typically, Meniere’s disease gets worse with time, especially if no treatment is started. The exact cause behind Meniere’s disease is not known yet. However, genetics and autoimmune factors are considered to play an important role in disease pathogenesis.

Meniere’s disease is triggered when there is a buildup of fluid in the inner ear. Normally, this fluid maintains balance and hearing by interpreting airwaves and translating that signal to the brain; however, in Meniere’s, too much fluid disrupts the delicate balance in the inner ear and elicits the attacks of vertigo and hearing loss.

What are the symptoms of Meniere’s disease?

As mentioned before, there are three main symptoms of Meniere’s disease. These include:

  • Vertigo:

In Meniere’s, the attacks of vertigo occur suddenly, with variable intensity and frequency as the disease progresses. Typically, these symptoms last for at least 20 minutes, to a maximum of 24 hours. Most patients describe the vertigo associated with Meniere’s, as a spinning sensation even when still. This vertigo can trigger nausea and vomiting, as well.

Most patients carry medication for vertigo on them, as these attacks are unprecedented.

Vertigo of Meniere’s disease can interfere with activities like swimming, driving, climbing ladders and operating heavy equipment.  

  • Hearing loss:

The hearing loss in Meniere’s disease, fluctuates from patient to patient. Early on, the patient can hear loud sounds and may even be sensitive to them. This hearing loss progresses as the disease worsens and can even become permanent.

  • Tinnitus:

Persistent noise in the ear is called tinnitus. It can take the form of ringing, whistling, hissing, buzzing and roaring. Since Meniere’s disease affects one ear at a time, the patient becomes aware of this noise in the affected ear during quiet.

  • Psychological symptoms

In addition to the symptoms localized to the ear, Meniere’s disease can also cause psychological symptoms. These include: anxiety, depression and stress. This becomes more evident during an acute attack, when the patient’s ability to work and interact socially becomes challenging due to disease.

If Meniere’s causes inability to drive, this limits the mobility of the patient and access to friends and social circle, thereby exacerbating stress and anxiety.  

What is the recommended diet for patients of Meniere’s disease?

Dietary changes help Meniere’s disease by limiting fluid retention in the body. This, in turn, reduces the frequency and severity of acute attacks.

The recommended dietary changes include:

  • Small frequent meals: instead of three big meal a day, people with Meniere’s should have six small meals throughout the day. This helps to regulate body fluids and prevents retention.
  • Drinking more water: hydration is very important for patients with Meniere’s disease. Such patients should drink 10 to 15 glasses of water daily, and even more during hot and humid climate.
  • Decreasing salt intake: increasing salt intake increases the retention of water in the body, and vice versa. Therefore, people with diseases like hypertension and Meniere’s disease should decrease salt in their diet. Such patients should not only limit salt in everyday cooking, but also avoid the salt in packaged and processed food.
  • Limiting alcohol in diet: inner ear fluid volume is sensitive to alcohol intake. Thus, people with Meniere’s should avoid alcohol intake. 
  • Avoiding tyramine: this is an amino acid found in a variety of foods including smoked meat, cheese, yogurt, liver and red wine. According to experts like Best ENT Specialist in Islamabad, tyramine can initiate an acute attack of Meniere’s by triggering migraine headache.