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/