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What is Ménière’s disease?
Ménière’s disease is a disorder that affects the labyrinth (a system of passages) of your inner ear, which is important for hearing and balance. About 1 in 1000 people have Ménière’s disease and it may affect an equal number of men and women. It may develop it at any age, but it is most common in people between 20 and 60 years old.
What causes Ménière’s disease?
The exact cause of Ménière’s disease is unknown, but it’s thought to be caused by a problem with pressure deep inside the ear.
Factors that can increase your risk of developing Ménière’s disease include a family history of the condition and a chemical imbalance in the fluid in your inner ear.
Lifestyle changes to help manage Ménière’s disease
This information offers some suggestions with the aim of reducing the number of episodes of dizziness that you are currently experiencing, by preventing fluctuations in the pressure of the inner ear fluids. It generally takes a few weeks before you may notice any benefit.
1. Distribute your food and fluid intake evenly throughout the day and from day to day. Eat approximately the same amount of food at each meal and do not skip meals. If you eat snacks, have them at regular times.
2. Avoid eating foods or fluids which have a high salt content. High salt intake results in fluctuations in the inner ear fluid pressure and may increase your symptoms. Aim for a diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in canned or processed foods. A 1 to 2 gram sodium intake diet is usually what is recommended. One teaspoon of table salt has about 2 grams of sodium. Note that sodium (one of the two elements in table salt) is not exactly the same as sodium chloride (salt). The following are some examples of natural foods that are high in sodium.
- Pickled foods such as olives
- Swiss chard
- Smoked fish
- Smoked cheese
3. Drink adequate amounts of fluid daily. This should include water and low-sugar fruit juices (for example cranberry). Try to anticipate fluid loss which will occur with exercise or heat, and replace these fluids before they are lost.
4. Avoid food and drinks which contain caffeine (such as coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate). Caffeine has stimulant properties that may make your symptoms worse.
5. Limit your alcohol intake to one glass of beer or wine each day.
6. Where possible, limit the amount of stress in your life.
7. Avoid smoking or chewing nicotine products.
Where can I get further information?
Telephone 01306 876883
Brain and Spine Foundation
Telephone 0808 8081000
NHS Choices provides online information and guidance on all aspects of health and healthcare, to help you make choices about your health.
Who can I contact with any concerns or questions?
If you have any problems or are worried, please do not hesitate to contact us in the Ear, Nose and Throat Outpatient Department, Royal Sussex County Hospital. Telephone: 01273 696955 extension 64813.
This leaflet is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.