Meniere’s Disease – My way out

Yesterday someone told me her dad had been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease.  I was reminded and felt so sad for the dad, having been there myself.

According to statistics 3-5 million people suffer from Meniere’s disease in the United States alone. 100.000 new cases are diagnosed every day!

Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that affects the balance and hearing. Fluid accumulates in the inner ear and creates a pressure that affects the balance. Usually only one ear is affected.

Let me rewind and go 3 years back. I had been in Europe visiting my family in Denmark and on our way back we had a stop in Paris. We booked in to our hotel and decided to go down to the a little cozy restaurant, just around the corner. There we were totally excited that we were together in beautiful Paris! We ordered some food and a glass of wine. The next thing I knew was, that I thought I was having a heart attack. It came out of the blue, happened instantly and it was something I had never ever tried in my entire life before. I was terrified to say the least. The whole world was spinning, I could not walk, I had cold sweat and I felt sick as a dog. All kinds of things were going through my mind, it was THE most scary thing I had ever experienced.

My family almost carried me out and the waitress was told we would not be having dinner. The family took me up stairs to the hotel room where I collapsed on the bathroom floor and was sick for hours – it took 2-3 hours before the spinning stopped and I could crawl in to bed, completely exhausted.

The next day I was exhausted and thought that perhaps it had been a bad case of food poisoning – even though I have never reacted like that to food poisoning before.

Back in Canada – 2 months later. I am doing my usual things and all of a sudden “IT ” happens again – out of the blue, no warning signs  – cold sweat, spinning and sick as a dog – it is not just dizzy, it is spinning like crazy. This time I think – “What is happening to me???” I am totally defeated – on the floor, not able to do anything – sick sick sick, again!!! The same things happen,  2-3 hrs before I  exhaustively can climb in to bed and fall asleep. Even 2 days after an attack I am really tired and worn out.

Between the attacks I notice that I have a “fullness” in one ear,  a pressure and my hearing is bad.

At this point I am still not connecting the dots – I think I am in denial.

A dear friend of mine who is a nurse – says to me “Next time you get it, go to emergency while you are having the attack!”

A month later – it happens again – and with the family’s help I manage to get to the doctor’s office – while the world is spinning.

He says – “I think you have Meniere’s disease – but I want you to have a brain scan to make sure it is not a tumor”.  I crawl back out of his office and I am devastated!! What has happened to my life? I cannot believe it.  Is it a tumor? If not, then what – do I have to live with this and how do I do that??

I did not have a tumor, thank God! – “only” Meniere’s disease  – the specialist said “We don’t know exactly what causes it. There is no cure and you will have to live with it. Be careful about your sodium intake,  caffeine and alcohol. See you in 2 months”. This goes on for the next year with more scary attacks.

I have never heard about Meniere’s disease before. All the information I found online was “Bad” news – no cure, stories of how people have become house bound having these scary attacks all the time, stories about how your hearing is badly affected every time you have an attack. Stories of people giving up work – not even being able to drive!! I was terrified and I was anxious most of the time scared about when the next attack would happen and also terrified that I could have a tumor in my brain!! I was depressed and felt my whole life was coming to an “end”.

Perhaps you have read my story and thereby know that a friend gave me 2 bottles of green smoothies and a book called “Green for life”. “What the heck!” I thought, I’ll try anything!! So  I began to drink liters of green smoothies – over a very short time my taste buds changed and I felt that things I would eat before was too salty or all of a sudden too sweet. Instead I craved more green food. I did not think this would make a difference on my Meniere’s disease –  but I felt better, had more energy, my depression went away and I even felt a bit of hope.

That was 2 years ago and I have not had a single full-blown attack since!!

I believe the reasons to be:

  • Less sodium intake – both because many of my meals today consist of plant-based foods – there is no salt added to a green smoothy! And because my taste buds changed and I don’t crave salty foods anymore.
  • I have much more energy – I started jogging and that has had a great effect on my stress level as well as improving my blood circulation
  • I eat less fat – in particular animal fat – which clogs up the arteries.  Clogged arteries means that the blood flow be restricted in and around the ear.  According to “the Meniere’s disease help blog” – High Cholesterol could be making things a lot worse for patients with Meniere’s disease.

I am neither an expert nor a doctor – all I have is my own experience! However, I strongly believe there is a connection between the way we live, what we eat and diseases like Meniere’s disease. I am certain that my change in lifestyle and eating habits have had not only a positive effect on my overall health, but also on my Meniere’s disease. Today, I have no more scary attacks, only pressure on my ear some days – and that I can live with!

I am sharing this story in the hope, maybe there are others out there that can find relief as I have.

This is a great source of information:

http://www.managemenieres.com/

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37 thoughts on “Meniere’s Disease – My way out

  1. Wow. You are amazing thank you soooooo much. I have just forwarded this on to my mother and father. 1 million times thank you!! I am so touched you would take the time to do this!

  2. Such a great story! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Meniere’s disease before! Thank you for sharing your story. I love lifestyle change success stories! Goes to show you food should be our medicine 🙂

  3. Hi Anne! So wonderful that you’ve managed to take some control back via your lifestyle and diet! Congratulations! I remember really clearly seeing a little blurb about certain historians believing that Van Gogh actually had Meniere’s, which was why he cut off his ear, and had his spells of “insanity” etc…I did some more research and thought the argument held a lot of weight based on his own letter and descriptions from them (as well as his dr’s)…ended up doing my senior year project on the subject and arguing that I believed Meniere’s was Van Gogh’s underlying condition, not mental instability as has been widely accepted. Since then, I haven’t really heard anyone (until today) even mention Meniere’s…glad to see this post!

    • That is an amazing story! Wow, imagine if Van Gogh was not insane but had Meniere’s disease!! I am a big fan of Van Gogh and when I was young I would read all about him. I never thought about it, but yes indeed he could have been suffering from Meniere’s disease. What an interesting study you did – would love to read it!!
      Love

  4. Hi Anne – I’m so glad to have found your website! I was also diagnosed with Meniere’s, which progressed to the point (over about 4 years) that I needed to leave work and was scheduled to have endolymphatic shunt surgery. I too found that a radical change in my diet (basically a “paleo” diet – i.e. no grains/legumes/dairy) eliminated pretty much all of my Meniere’s symptoms, along with lots of other seemingly-unrelated health issues. I have a website at http://www.managemenieres.com if you’re interested. I really wish there were more resources out there focused on the effect of diet, beyond just salt, on Meniere’s symptoms. Thanks for posting your story!

    • Dear Maya – I am so happy you came!
      It is wonderful to hear that you too have found a natural way to heal!
      I love your website, so much great information there and your story is very inspiring!
      I will put a link to your site.
      Thank you so much for visiting!

  5. I was diagnosed with meniere’s two years ago. I started a near vegan diet about a year and a half ago, and it seems to have helped. When I stick with the diet more carefully I have fewer symptoms. For the most part I only have mild one sided ear fullness and a little lightheaded ness, usually only when I’m recovering from a cold or dealing with allergies. I’m guessing there’s something to the anti inflammatory nature of the diet that is helping. Typically I have less severe colds, less pms, and better energy on this diet. I wonder if it could be helpfull to others as well. I’m glad to hear its helping you as well

    • Dear Wendy – thank you so much for stopping by and sharing!!!
      I am so happy you have found relief too and are feeling the benefits of changing your diet, that is so wonderful!
      I am completely convinced that it could benefit others. The easiest is to try it and see what it does – the risk is better health and well being in general 🙂
      Thans again Wendy!

  6. Thanks for sharing your story. The onset of Meniere’s sounds awfully similar to what happened to me two years ago. It was the most terrifying and exhausting time in my life. The ‘super scary’ attacks have slowed to nothing for more than a year, but the ringing and ear stuffiness continue, with spinning symptoms only now and then. Appreciate your insight and resources! -david

    • Thank you David! I am so sorry that you too were suffering these scary attacks! You are right it is the most terrifying and exhausting experience ever. I remember that I was always dreading the next attack.
      I am glad you are “only” experiencing the ear stuffiness and that the spinning symptoms are only now and then, which can be hard enough! Have you tried changing your diet?
      I am certain that my change of diet, exercise and relaxation was what helped me, although I still knock on wood 🙂
      Thanks for visiting!

      • Hi Anne,
        I think I need to do a little more diet restructuring. Having been vegetarian for a decade now, and with a vegan partner, I feel my diet is pretty good. However, things like salt intake, caffeine and a weakness for good cheese could use a bit of work, however small a part of my eating habits. I find exhaustion and stress to be factors in whether or not I am feeling symptoms. The ringing/stuffy ear symptoms feel like a persistent low-grade drain on my healing resources. Riding my bicycle to get around and maintaining my yoga practice are a great help. It’s great to be able to share stories and tips with you and your readers!
        Cheers,
        david
        PS> thanks for checking out my photography blog, too!

      • Hi David – sorry for the late reply! You sound pretty healthy, being a vegetarian and with a vegan partner, you probably eat a lot of plant based foods.
        I think cutting back on cheese made a huge difference for me. Adding green smoothies to my diet has changed my taste buds so I now automatically feel that many things I loved to eat before feels either too salty or too sweet. This has helped me cut back on cheeses which are very salty, same with olives.
        Stress is bad on everything and I am sure it affects symptoms as well. So great you are biking and doing yoga. Both are really great ways to unplug and relax.
        I think that the low pressure weather we have here in BC adds to the stuffiness in the ear. Do you find that?
        Yes it’s great to be able to share stories and tips – I appreciate that!
        Your photo blog is beautiful!
        Have a great weekend!

  7. Thanks for sharing and amazing as your symptoms are under control with diet and exercise. That is fantastic! A few years back and intermittently, I had dizziness and, once, severe vomiting with it. At some point, I was relating the incidences with my sister and she said she had the same thing when taking anything with Echinacea in it. Sure enough, it was winter and had been taking it to strengthen the immune system. Yes, high sensitivity to Echinacea has been proven.

    I too eat a lot of greens and love to always have in the fridge low-sodium V-8 juice. It has a very high potassium level. I am presently experimenting with the VIrgin diet which eliminates gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts corn, sugar and artificial sweeteners. After 3 weeks, you are to reintroduce one food at a time. I know i have high sensitivity to dairy and corn but uncertain about the rest; however, only use Stevia as a sweetener in tea and generally Ezekiel.bread . . .thought it would be interesting to try the Virgin regime.

    Life also has changed dramatically since using a neti-pot. I started that years ago after going to an allergist because of corn allergies (about the same time that Monsanto started modifying the genetics of foods, especially corn.) As a result was put on a medication which gave me symptoms of Fibromyalgia ~ gosh, I was glad to read that warning eventually in the pamphlet enclosed with the allergy meds. Needless to say, I tossed all the allergy medications out and began my journey with natural diet, exercise and use of the neti-pot. I no longer have Asthma or toomany allergy symptoms.

    Here’s some relaxing music….Top tracks of Andrea Bocelli (pop opera)

    Write on!

    • Ahh you are so sweet! Thank you, looking forward to enjoying that 🙂
      So happy that you are now without asthma and that your allergy symptoms are fewer! That is awesome!
      It’s really amazing what we can do with life style changes. I am so happy for you!
      Have a great weekend!

  8. Hello Anne, I am searching right now. I have been dealing with my diagnosis of Meniere’s for about a year now. I too have spinning attacks, fullness in my ears, more my right than left, difficulties walking in a straight line in the grocery story etc. I seem to have attacks every month or so. I have lost some hearing in my right ear as well. Today I went to a balance clinic and they stimulated a significant attack. It was horrible and I walked out of that clinic feeling I need to change, this has to stop. I was previously a long distance runner, in the past year I have gained about 20lbs and walk on my good days. I feel I have lost my life, I’m only 41 years old. Two teenage children and a good husband. I have applied for long term disability at work. I could go on and on about what has changed and how I live with fear that I will not be able to function. At times I have lost my ability to drive. As I said I am searching for a change, a change in me, a change in my life style. I need some guidance. I am wondering if you have had success with yoga to help restore some of your balance? Your blog is the first sight I have found that has offered some hope. I hope to learn from it and gain some more insight into creating some balance. Both in life and in my vestibular system.
    Bernadette

    • Thank you Bernadette! I am so happy you stopped by 🙂
      Sorry to hear your story and how much you suffer! It sounds exactly like the place I was in 3 years ago – it’s a scary place to be and I felt so depressed. I didn’t know what to do and I was terrified that the doctors were right and I had to live with it for the rest of my life! I am so grateful I found a way out and that I can tell a different story today – it’s possible to find relief and get out on the other side of Menieres disease!
      I am sure yoga is really great – it’s one of those things I would like to add to my life as well 🙂
      I would love to hear how you do and if I can help support you in any way,let me know!
      All the best to you!!!

  9. I have had Ménière’s for about 1 1/2 yrs now. I travel a lot over several altitude changes here in Colorado and that seems to affect it quite a bit. I have been drinking green smoothie and eating a vegetarian diet since and even tried seeing some natural path doctors but nothing seems to be working. Does altitude change affect the pressure in your ear? My ear plugs up for days or weeks at a time and I can’t hear much in that ear during that time. The doctors have tried several drugs but nothing seems to work. Did you do anything else along with diet that helped? Thanks for any help you can give. Randy

    • Dear Randy – Im so sorry you are suffering so much and not finding relief although it seems you are doing all the right things!
      Altitude affect the pressure in my ear for sure. Are you suffering with vertigo too or is it “just” the pressure in the ear?
      You say you are on a vegetarian diet – do you eat milk products? I have found that cutting down milk products to a minimum has helped me. I will still have milk products every now and then but not every day, as I used to.
      Appart from diet – I am aware of stress, I do mindfulness meditation every day. I exercise every day too.
      A Danish doctor who specializes in Meniere’s disease told me about something called a Meniett. It is supposed to help many patients with the pressure in the ear. I don’t know enough to recommend it, but I think it is worth checking out. http://www.meniett.com/
      All the best to you!

  10. Hi. Great story. I am 31 years old, from Denmark, and I have menieres. Måske du kan dansk, når din familie er fra danmark?? What does your green smoothies contain?
    Louise, Denmark

    • Uhh Louise, ked af at høre du har menieres! Det er skrœmmende og meget ubehageligt når man har de slemme anfald! Heldigvis er der rigtig meget man kan gøre via sund kost, motion og afspœnding/mindfulness og få det bedre!
      De grønne smoothies er lavet af kål, spinat, gulerodstoppe, eller andre grønne blade – blendet med lœkker frisk frugt – jeg bruger tit ananas, œble, vindruer, banan, melon, pœre, melon, fersken og andet frugt – – blander 3-4 forskellige slags frugt i – tilsœtter vand så det får den rigtige konsistens og ikke blive for tykt. Jeg har en ‘high power” blender men hvis du bruger en alm blender skal du nok blende det flere omgange så det bliver blendet ordenligt.
      Du kan søge på min blog for ‘green smoothies’ – der er rigtig mange opskrifter.
      De bedste hilsner til dig

  11. I was literally diagnosed with Meniere’s yesterday. I am 27 years old, getting married in 4 months. I am devastated. Like you said, you read LOTS of horror stories. I am having a rough time with the news but your story has inspired me to make some changes in my diet and lifestyle. I am praying it will make a difference!

    • Dear Casandra – Im so sorry! I really hope you will find relief by making some changes to your diet and your lifestyle and I believe you will. It has made an incredible difference in my life. I hope you will feel a lot better in 4 months 🙂 Good luck with it all! I would love to know how you do!

  12. I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease in 2000. I really didn’t have any problems from 2002-2012. Last year it came back with a vengeance. I was out of work for an entire month at one time. I just ran into your blog a couple weeks ago. I have since read The Green Life and Green Smoothie Revolution. My husband and I are going to try to eat a more plant based diet too. I have been drinking green smoothies for over a week now everyday. I haven’t seen an improvement in my symptoms (complete ear fullness/deafness, some lightheadedness) yet- but I hope to in the future. I stopped having vertigo attacks when I started supplements- but they are so expensive. I decided that if the supplements help, it means I’m lacking vitamins and minerals in my diet- which is how I found you! Thank you for your blog.

    • Thank you so much Patricia! I hope this finds you well – sorry it took so long for me to get back to you!
      I find that there many things that play a role in living well with Meniere’s disease – I still have days will fulness in my ear, but I have no more vertigo attacks which I find were the scariest part! I find that it’s important to eat well, drink green smoothies every day – exercise every day, relax in some way – I use mindfulness meditations daily to relax. I look at stress, is anything stressing me in an unhealthy way? I think that looking at our lives as a whole helps – are there any places out of balance. When my Meniere’s disease started I was out of balance and this scary disease finally helped me make some important changes in my life 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting – wish you the best of luck. Would love to hear how you are doing along the way 🙂

  13. Hi Anne,
    Thank you so much for this blog. I was diagnosed with Meniere’s two months ago but have had it for two years or more. I’m still struggling with the fullness in my ear. The vertigo attacks are getting better although they’re still not gone. I have 5 children ages 3 years to 19 years, so I really want to get better quickly. My husband took a few weeks off work to help me during the worst of the vertigo 2 months ago. I am 42 years old and notice the symptoms worsen around my period. Do you think the green smoothies can help me? Also I am underweight and trying to get my weight up with this restricted diet. I’d really appreciate any advice. Also what do you put in your smoothies?

    • Dear Ali – thank you for your comment! I’m so sorry that you have been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease! I think there are many things we can do to relieve and help ease the symptoms of Meniere’s disease. I highly recommend drinking green smoothies and eating well, but also looking at exercise, getting some kind of exercise every day. Relaxation, mindfulness is my thing, but really doing things that makes you relax. Stress is equally important – is there anything that stresses you, and creates unhealthy stress? I have found that it’s not just one thing, but it’s very much looking at our lives as a whole – finding out if there are places that are out of balance.
      I have many green smoothie recipes on my blog – so if you search, green smoothies, there should be lots of recipes coming up. I hope this helps – I wish you all the best! I would love to know how you are doing along the way 🙂 Good luck!

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