How food allergies and intolerances may affect the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
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Do a simple search for studies on food allergies & intolerances related to Meniere’s Disease and a relatively long list will be pulled up.
One important thing to note perhaps is that most reference studies from the same source: American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery – (Derebury), in which it is suggested that as many as 30% of Meniere’s sufferers may have food allergies that at least contribute to their condition.
It is hypothesized that allergies may contribute in 3 possible ways:
- The endolymphatic sac may be the “target organ” of mediator released from systemic inhalant or food reactions.
- Deposition of circulating immune complex may produce inflammation and interfere with the sac’s filtering capability.
- A predisposing viral infection may interact with allergies in adulthood and cause the endolymphatic sac to decompensate, resulting in endolymphatic hydrops (Derebery, 1996).
Dr Timothy Haines, a long time writer on Meniere’s doesn’t have much confidence in these theories, stating that a. Hydrops may not necessarily be the key factor in the condition’s pathology and b. In his experience immunotherapy for allergy, is almost never a curative treatment for Meniere’s disease.
So lets look at some facts and experiences of sufferers who have contacted us over the years.
In 2000 the study “Allergic management of Meniere’s disease: an outcome study”, published in the official journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, stated the following (excerpt summary):
“The effect of allergy immunotherapy and elimination of suspected food allergens was evaluated in patients with Meniere’s disease. 113 patients treated with desensitization and diet showed a significant improvement from pretreatment to posttreatment in both allergy and Meniere’s symptoms. Hearing was stable or improved in 61.4%. Patients with Meniere’s disease can show improvement in their symptoms of tinnitus and vertigo when receiving specific allergy therapy. The inner ear may be the target, directly or indirectly, of an allergic reaction.”
In the 1996 Derebery paper in the same journal, it states interestingly that:
” Meniere’s disease, although idiopathic by definition, has been ascribed to a variety of causes, which more recently include autoimmune factors. Interest in the role of allergy in Meniere’s disease has also increased. Studies from this institution and elsewhere provide evidence that allergy and immunologic factors play a role in Meniere’s disease in at least some patients“
The aim of Meniere’s Help has always been two fold. Firstly, giving you the information you need to take appropriate action therefore enabling your immune system to deal with the inflammation, balance your various body systems and allow you to live symptom free, regardless of your root cause. And secondly identifying your particular root cause or causes and eliminating them from your life, and therefore free yourself from Meniere’s completely.
In our formative years we had multiple thousands contact us who were ultimately able to live symptom free. In latter years with our focus very much on root causes and contributing triggers we have had many more who were able to rid themselves of Meniere’s completely. It all comes down to knowledge and using that knowledge for your particular case.
It has to be said that it seems at first glance that food allergies and intolerances have not been the most common cause with the many people who contact us, but there have been plenty of notable exceptions. I would say it is something very worthwhile getting checked for and crossing off your list of possibilities and perhaps is an often ignored aspect.
Sizable enough numbers of people who have Meniere’s have found they have allergies to wheat, gluten, soy and/or some dairy foods.
The “increased interest” in allergies and Menieres Derebery speaks of may coincide with the huge increase in gluten intolerance, allergies or celiac disease in recent years. The extent of the relevance of that is debatable but the facts can not be ignored.
‘Interesting‘ because gluten intolerance is not a true allergy but rather a problem with gut flora. With diagnosis not easy and often expensive, many people may never be diagnosed. Data varies, but just taking one quoted statistic that a decade ago, gluten-intolerance levels were at 1 in 2500 worldwide and today, it’s at 1 in 133 shows a shocking increase.
Why would such a huge number of the population suddenly start developing an intolerance to what has been part of the staple diet of a sizable portion of the world for generations?
Answers will vary depending on who you ask but I think it is obvious that forced food practices, food preparation, the introduction of GMO and the proliferation of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, additives and other environmental pollutants is killing or at least affecting adversely the the tiny organisms that we need inside our gut.
The bacteria contains billions of neurons which is why the gut is often called the second brain and it is vital to the immune system, so we can easily join the dots and equate the explosion in degenerative diseases in the past half century at the very least with the modern culture of eating highly processed foods rather than fresh organic foods.
Is it any wonder that the supplement industry and in particular the drug industry is so huge these days, as is perversely, the agricultural chemical industry. When you take into account that organic farming (which should simply be termed “farming” as apposed to the ‘chemical farming’ that produces most of our food) is not much more than a cottage industry, there is definitely something wrong.
Modern “food convenience” it could be argued is resulting in mass poor health where the only winners are the CEO’s and share holders of huge multi national drug and chemical corporations. But at what cost to their own families and the general population?
Gluten in the form we know today is a neurotoxin and of course the central nervous system has been linked to Meniere’s. Over the past 50 years, hybridization wheat grains has taken place to supposedly increase crop yield ( the results of that are highly debatable) and lengthen ‘shelf life’. A protein called gliadin was added to grain. It is thought that higher concentrations of this protein has made wheat less digestible, which causes an allergy or reaction. Increased antibodies to gliadin, may have a negative impact on the neural system.
Gluten intolerance is much more prevalent in the USA than Europe. Gluten intolerant Americans who have eaten wheat in Europe have asked the reason why they don’t have any problems there but do at home. There are two very relevant yet contentious answers to that. Europe does not as a rule allow GMO crops therefore there is less gliadin and it also does not allow (as of the time of writing) the use of glyphosate herbicide.
“Wheat is one of the most common food allergens found in patients with Meniere’s disease (MD). Gluten from wheat has been identified to have a etiopathogenetic role in celiac disease, IgE hypersensitivity to wheat disease, and recently to gluten sensitivity. The aim of this study was to verify the incidence of gliadin prick test response in patients affected by MD.
Meniere’s Help reader’s experiences with food intolerances and the symptoms of Meniere’s
There were 58 adult patients with definite MD, 25 healthy volunteers, and 25 patients with grass pollen rhinoconjunctivitis tested with skin prick test to gliadin.
A total of 33 MD patients (56.9%) proved to be sensitive to gliadin, eight of whom were positive to prick test after 20 minutes, 13 after 6 hours, 11 after 12 hours, and one after 24 hours.”
We have long preached at Meniere’s Help the importance of what you eat and do not eat often being vital to help reduce or stop your symptoms (and often in the early days to the derision and skepticism of some in online forums, some doctors and some of our early readers – those people are very few and far between these days).
What do our readers have to say on the subject? Below are some extracts from mails to Meniere’s Help from sufferers, that paint an interesting picture regarding what we eat, food and in particular gluten allergies and intolerances (used with permission):
“I have been suffering with Meniere’s for over 12 years. I’m otherwise very healthy. I have given up gluten, lactose, caffeine and cut way back on refined sugar. But these 6 weeks were tough. I was so exhausted I could barely get out of bed. I found your site about 2 weeks ago and read about the supplements. I ordered all of the maximum recommendation.
I started taking them a week ago and have been dizzy free for 4 days. My head is clear, I have energy, and my vision has returned to normal. I got up on Saturday and walked over to the window. I was in awe that there was so much color outside. It was like I was seeing beautiful color for the first time. And the brain fog had lifted. I still have the tinnitus and if I move my head too suddenly I can feel the dizziness during my movement so I know it’s still there. But this is honestly better than I imagined I would feel so soon after starting.
I don’t know if it’s the supplements or the recent episode (which I suspect was brought on by allergies) had run its course but I feel fantastic. I have boundless energy and found myself actually laughing and feeling playful like my old self. If progress continues I plan to do the full vitamin routine for 90 days and then transition to a maintenance program of the 4 supplements that the vast majority take to live symptom free.
It’s been a long, rough road but I am truly hopeful of living with fewer and/or less intense episodes for the first time since my initial diagnosis.
I’ll let you know if the progress continues.
Thanks for giving me hope
“Thanks for such an informative website. I have, for a few months now, been reading through all the information on the site. Your approach and philosophy to meniere’s really strikes a chord with me.I currently follow a strict low sodium diet, have recently given up both caffeine and alcohol (well, I have a decaf coffee once a day – not chemically decaffeinated) and have reduced my wheat/gluten intake severely…..(recent poor health has prompted me to become very interested in cellular nutrition!).“
“I suffer what could be Meniere’s disease, however I don’t yet experience vertigo. I have a roaring hissing tinnitus in my left ear and facial pain on left side and fullness in my ear.
Another point is I have suffered from food allergies such as gluten, sugar, and processed foods as they have created a numbing sensation for years prior to my condition now.“
Thank you for following up, again… I do appreciate it. After reading your book I have taken the following action for myself.
1. I’ve stopped all Dr. Meds with the exception of a diuretic. (I had stopped but felt that my hearing worsened a little so I went back on it and it has seemed to help)
2. I have great pharmaceutical grade supplements.
3. I have dramatically altered my diet, cut my sodium way back to no more than 1500 MG on a typical day.
4. I have met with Dr Derebery of the House Ear Institute in LA and have gone through extensive allergy testing.
I have discovered that drinking alcohol and beer have a definite negative effect on my hearing so I’ve cut them out as well, (for the most part). I’ve also mostly cut out all processed wheat, am attempting to cut out gluten, and have gone to a mainly whole foods diet which included plenty of organic fruits, veggies, and non GMO meats, ( among other foods as well).
So far I have seen improvement. My hearing has cleared up some in both ears. The “fog” I was living with has subsided and my tinnitus has decreased as well. Earlier this year my hearing was so bad that I was unable to hear the fan that is placed right next to my head at night. For years I have not been able to speak on the phone with my right ear and now I am able to.
Finally, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for having and maintaining your web site and your book. I have already referred it to a couple of people who I have met that are going through the same problems. You definitely opened my eyes to alternative options for dealing with these issues, other than the Dr’s telling me to “learn to live with it”, or having to take the potentially toxic medications they were prescribing me.
Thanks again for your help. I can’t express my appreciation enough!
Thank you so much for writing back and yes you are right. I was actually on TCM for 3 months and I thought I had my condition under control. But soon I noticed that every month the week after my menses, my ear pressure will act up and my left neck will feel so sore and tensed. I tried watching my diet ala keeping it low salt but soon got complacent. I am really not very good at dietary control and I really needed to get my hands on your book to be disciplined about it.
I have started to do my regular brisk walking again, seen a chiropractor for some spinal adjustment.. Also plan to see a dentist to enquire about my alignment or even do a prick allergy test because my chiro told me I am allergic to gluten.”
I just wanted to congratulate you on the completion of your book. As a fellow Meniere’s sufferer, I sincerely appreciate people like you doing extensive research and publishing what works and what doesn’t work. More of us need to be solution minded, instead of having a victim mentality. Two years ago, I was literally a mess. I thought my career was over, I thought my life was over.
At this time, I have the (vertigo and brain fog) symptoms about 98% under control. Diet– limited (but not super low) sodium and generally gluten-free. No diet sugars, no MSG, no caffeine. I do allow myself some alcohol, but in limited quantities. The supplements.
In any case, just wanted to say kudos for sharing your information. I watched some of your videos earlier in my struggles, when things were bleak; it’s great for an MM sufferer to have hope that they can conquer this awful disease.
“Thanks for all the info, Mike. I would say that a lot of the triggers do apply to Harry, significant factor is low adrenal function, often referred to as adrenal fatigue ( see endocrine disorder connections to Meniere’s and metabolism and Meniere’s) it’s a real vicious circle, with stress being the biggest trigger.
He also has atrophic gastritis (caused by an h.pylori infection) and was 65 (he’s now 71) before we realised he was gluten sensitive.“
“yes we e-mailed u back already.
symptom free for 2 yrs. doing a completely paleo diet.
low carb/ no flour/no gluten/ no sugar or any processed foods.
change was immediate within a few days“
“I’m blessed by having tons more good days than bad. My diet is gluten-free, and pretty much salt and sugar-free.”
“Hi Mike, I just thought that I’d get back to you. Last week my Dr did a Blood test for Celiac Disease. It came out abnormal which means that I might have Celiac. For now it shows that I can’t do Gluten, Wheat, Barley, Rye and in some cases Oats. People with Celiac can’t absorb their Minerals correctly. So it would make sense that the supplements would help.“
Thanks for getting back to me.
I’ve had food intolerance tests, I’ve even had my amalgam fillings removed in a bid to feel better. The food intolerance tests have made a big difference in that I have given up gluten and dairy and this has helped with my energy levels enormously although it took a while.
Thanks again, I do appreciate it.
Of course not everyone with Meniere’s Disease has food allergies or intolerances, but I hope I have demonstrated the possibility and getting at least tested is a must for you to either cross it off your list of possible causes/triggers or if needed to take appropriate action.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is a common cause of myelin loss, as are copper and vitamin C deficiency.
Often times the deficiencies are caused by gluten induced gastrointestinal damage. B12 has a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, the formation of red blood cells, helps in the production of DNA and RNA, is important for metabolism and helps your body produce energy.
Bottom line on Vitamin B12 is that if through gluten or other food allergies and intolerances or toxins the gut flora is depleted then this vital nutrient may be deficient and we can talk about the domino effects and poor health from that forever.
Antibiotics also seriously affect intestinal flora and it is advised these days that after a course it should always be followed by a good probiotic. Sugar and artificial sweeteners, alcohol, sometimes coffee, pesticides, emulsifiers in processed and fast foods can all have adverse effects on your gut flora destroying the balance of the approximate one trillion bacteria there.
If the balance in your gut is out the knock effect throughout your body may ultimately throw your inner ear function into dysfunction and contribute to you to suffering with Meniere’s symptoms.
The financiers, including Aviva Investors, Strathclyde Pension Fund and Coller Capital, are particularly concerned about the use of antibiotics classified as “critically important” to human health and the “routine, preventative” use of drugs on factory farms.
Thanks for the email, Mike. My husband Eric is still living symptom free…as long as we are eating whole, unprocessed foods and staying healthy by exercising. As soon as we fall off the healthy food wagon, he begins to feel dizzy again. Soooo, as long as we’re not slacking off, he does well.
I appreciate the personal touch on your email. You’re a great guy to help so many people.
Have a great day!
Amy’s message that a change of diet can make a big difference is not untypical.
Are Food allergies and relevant in Meniere’s disease?
The hypothesis of Derebury as to how allergies might contribute to Meniere’s may or may not be correct but whether right or not it seems clear that allergies, intolerances, gut flora and metabolism are important issues to consider for people who have Meniere’s and what you eat makes a significant difference.
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Written by Mike Spencer
Founder of Menieres-Help.Com – Supporting sufferers since 2004
Researcher and Author of Managing Meniere’s Disease and The Need for Balance – Dealing with the Causes of Meniere’s
Help other Meniere’s sufferers. What are your experiences with Meniere’s and food allergies or intolerances? Tell us all about them in the comment box below or email Mike at: firstname.lastname@example.org