Resources on this site are focused on a paleo way of eating and the impact that this has had on my ability to manage my own particular manifestions of Meniere’s.
Prior to changing my diet, my Meniere’s symptoms included persistant tinnitus and ear pressure, moderate hearing loss in the affected ear, and periodic episodes of severe vertigo that were accompanied by repeated vomiting. The most severe portion of the episodes would last for a few hours, but they would leave me incapacitated for a day or so afterwards.
I had had two rounds of steroid injections into the affected ear, which helped for periods of time, but symptoms eventually became severe enough that my Meniere’s specialist recommended surgery to place an endolymphatic shunt. I underwent all of the testing required and was scheduled for surgery, but at the last minute I decided to postpone the procedure and see if I could bring my symptoms under control with radical lifestyle changes.
I began to look into the possibility of food intolerances as triggers for my symptoms and episodes. A number of years before my Meniere’s diagnosis I had figured out that I had a gluten sensitivity and was lactose intolerant. Eliminating gluten and taking Lactaid pills with dairy had helped initially, but I found I also had extreme systemic reactions to other foods that were supposed to be “safe” (most dramatically to gluten-free oats and quinoa). I found my way to information about paleo eating and read about the connection between gut health autoimmune disorders, which led to major changes in my diet.
At this point, I have eliminated all of my previous symptoms of Meniere’s by eating a paleo diet. I also removed nightshades from my diet because of the arthritis symptoms I had begun to develop in my hands. I no longer take any medication. I also have experienced significant improvement in other health issues.
This resolution of symptoms has been an incredible relief and I hope that it continues. But, of equal importance are the coping strategies I have developed that helped me learn first to manage and eventually resolve, these persistent health problems. I hope to share some of those resources with you here, and to hear about how you have tackled Meniere’s.
I won’t try to tackle the huge body of information out there about the mechanisms of food intolerance, but two particular resources do a good job of laying out the basics (The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series), The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet). Another very good resource is the cookbook Everyday Paleo. I can’t recommend it highly enough, the recipes are delicious, generally very quick to make, and can be easily tweaked if there are some foods you are eliminating for a period of time.
An equally important element of managing Meniere’s is addressing lifestyle issues that may be exacerbating an underlying vulnerability. One of the most important issues is stress. If you experienced significant stress (either chronic or acute) that preceded the onset or worsening of your symptoms, or you are stressed from managing your symptoms and their effects on your life, a great book to start with is When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection.
As I was building my knowledge base about the biological aspects of Meniere’s and considering the relationship between its manifestations and lifestyle factors, I found it very helpful to start with a concrete stress management practice. Almost every day, I use the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction resources produced by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. The Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 1 CD includes some easy guided yoga meditations.
I hope that the resources here are helpful to you, and I would be very interested in connecting with you and hearing your story.
Any information or attitudes expressed on this site should not be taken as professional advice. It will be important for you to take any ideas you see here and discuss them with your team of providers (e.g. general practitioner, Meniere’s specialist, mental health clinician, etc.) to decide if they might be helpful to you.