The food we eat has important influences on our health. Dietary choices can alter or influence disease patterns & progress. For vertigo patients, a little tweak in their dietary choices can either raise or lessen their risk of a vertigo attack and the discomfort causing associated symptoms.
Vertigo or dizziness is just a symptom which can be caused by over 40 diseases of the inner ear, the nervous system or the brain. It is very important to diagnose the actual cause of vertigo or dizziness by conducting diagnostic tests and then the specialist doctor will be able to prescribe medicines, rehabilitation therapy & diet based on the underlining disease. The vestibular disorders stem from the inner ear, causing imbalance or dizziness. It may also cause visual or hearing disturbances as well. It is important to diagnose the cause of vertigo to understand what dietary modifications can help you. Read more about vertigo, dizziness and other imbalance disorders at this link.
If you are suffering from vertigo attacks, you may try some of the food tips mentioned here after consulting your doctor.
How food affects the vestibular problems
Vertigo is a consequence of certain problems in the inner ear. It can be an infection, mechanical problems like dislodgement of calcium carbonate particles (otoliths), inflammation, functional disorders, weak immune response, increased inner ear pressure, etc.
The underlying pathological conditions need proper medication and treatment. Dietary modifications may augment the effect of the medical management.
Foods to control vertigo
- Avoid consuming fluids that contain high sugar or salt concentrated drinks and soda.
- Caffeine intake. Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks and colas. It may increase the ringing sensation in the ear of the person who has vertigo issues. Caffeine has been reported to cause cell depolarization making the cells more easily excitable. Caffeine intake should be regulated in patients suffering from Meniere’s disease and vestibular migraine.
- Excess salt intake. Salt causes retention of excess fluid in the body affecting the fluid balance and pressure. High salt in the diet interferes with the internal homeostasis of the vestibular system. Patients with Meniere’s disease and vestibular migraine are asked to limit their salt intake. Food rich in sodium like soy sauce, chips, popcorn, cheese, pickles, papad and canned foods are to be avoided. You may replace your regular salt with low sodium salt as sodium is the main culprit in aggravating vertigo.
- Nicotine intake/Smoking. Nicotine is known to constrict the blood vessels. Vestibular problems arising due to vascular constriction will worsen by nicotine ingestion/smoking. Nicotine reduces blood flow to the brain and hampers in recovery by vestibular compensation.
- Alcohol intake. Alcohol adversely affects the metabolism, dehydrates the body, and its metabolites are harmful to the inner ear and the brain. Alcohol may trigger severe vertigo attack, migraine, vomiting and nausea in a vertigo prone person. Alcohol may interfere with the central processing of the brain hampering vestibular compensation and affect cognitive functions negatively impacting the recovery of the patient. It may also aggravate vertigo by altering the inner ear fluid dynamics. Wine is a known trigger of migraine attacks.
- Processed food & meat
- Bread and pastries
- Fried foods
- Pickles and fermented foods may aggravate symptoms of vertigo.
The above foods are shown to aggravate the conditions leading to vertigo. Avoiding these foods can help stabilize your condition.
Incorporate foods that are anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. They reduce the swelling of the tissue in the inner ear, repair the cells and ensure healthy cell regeneration.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Rich in potassium; tomatoes help flush out excess fluid from the body.
- These are rich in antioxidants, micronutrients and are anti-inflammatory too. Nuts improve blood circulation in the body and inner ear, thereby reducing the inner ear pressure build-up due to excess fluid. However, in a vestibular migraine, nuts should be avoided.
- Ginger may ease vertigo associated symptoms, like nausea, lightheadedness and vomiting. Since ginger interferes with diabetics and blood thinning drugs, it is not advisable for these patients.
- Food rich in Vitamin B & C, Zinc, Magnesium help restore nerve damage and improve blood circulation.
Foods listed here may provide relief to some people. Everybody reacts differently to different foods.
It may help to maintain a diary listing foods that trigger your vertigo. Slowly you can have your personalized list of foods to counter dizziness.
Medication-induced vertigo. If you get a vertigo bout by taking any medication, discuss it with your doctor and discontinue the drug. But before that check on safe alternate medicines so that your current health condition is not affected. Drugs like anti-depressants, sedatives, pain-killers, muscle relaxants, anti-hypertensives, acetylsalicylic acid may cause dizziness and escalate the chances of a vertigo attack.
Importance of medical assistance cannot be overlooked while you are doing your best with changing food habits. Do consult vertigo experts in our clinics and help yourself find a long lasting cure for your dizziness.