Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Well this is a depressing post

So, I'm probably going to have to take the recipes I post here in a slightly different direction. And the reason is not a good one. I have been diagnosed with probable Meniere's disease. It's "probable" mostly because my doctor doesn't want to burn through my health insurance doing a bunch of expensive tests that wouldn't change my treatment plan. My symptoms are pretty textbook. Those tests will probably get done over the next year or two, but for now, we're proceeding as if I have it.

The primary treatment for early Meniere's disease is a low sodium diet (and meds for symptoms). From what I understand at this point, it's thought to help regulate the amount of fluid retained in the inner ear. Some people take diuretics, but I have really low blood pressure already, so that's not a good idea. Later on, when I've lost considerable hearing, there are some more drastic treatments, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Given the pace of medical changes these days, it could be a whole new bridge in 10-15 years. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to stick to the dietary changes and hope it helps.

Now here's the thing. I love me some salt. Soy sauce? Cheese? Bacon? Sausage? Nuts? Pretzels? Dark chocolate covered pretzels? PASS THEM MY WAY! And it's been the one thing that I don't even consider in my cooking. Canned veggies? No problem. Feta cheese? No problem. Out of real chicken broth? Grab a can. This is going to have to change. A lot of the recipes I post here can be made relatively lower sodium... but many of the things we eat on a daily basis are more of a problem. I might make a nice roast chicken one day, but then the next we're having sausage sandwiches or ordering thai food. And I don't even want to think about the amount of salt that's thrown around when my husband barbecues some ribs or a nice tri-tip.

I think the key points to my cooking/eating are going to stay the same. I mean, if I was super reliant on boxed mac & cheese or casseroles with canned soup, I'd be in more trouble. Fresh seasonal fruits & veggies from my garden don't have excessive salt. Wild fish, pastured chicken & grassfed beef can be prepared with lower salt methods. I may even look into learning to make sausage so I can make it lower in sodium (stored in the freezer for safety.) But yeah, there are going to be some changes.


  1. Hi there! I've been reading your blog on and off for the recipes and came across this post. It has been suggested to me by a naturopath that I have Meniere's, but I've never seen an MD about the symptoms. It is most bothersome for me when I'm doing some sort of cardio, then I get the plugged feeling, hearing loss, and more tinitus than usual. I have very low grade tinitus all the time, but it worsens when I'm breathing hard. I'm an avid trail runner and still do CrossFit in conjunction with running.
    Very interesting about the low sodium diet... I'm not a big salt person and I eat mostly primal. I find it gets worse with more dairy and grains in my diet.
    I'd love to hear how you are managing. I take some homeopathics on and off when it gets particularly bad (I was training last year for the CrossFit games - that was the worst its ever been). I'm avoiding any pharmaceutical drugs. Otherwise I just suffer through it. Vertigo occurs infrequently, although in the past I've had bouts that lasted up to 6 weeks. Ugh.
    Hope you have a good week and keep up the awesome blog!
    Jo Ann

  2. Yeah, I've been meaning to do a whole Meniere's update. Basically for me, I have low grade tinnitus all the time and low grade ear fullness most of the time. Those things I can ignore. But my vertigo attacks are super severe and classic Meniere's... 4-12 hours of MASSIVE vertigo where I can't get up off the ground. And if I don't take meds early I have uncontrollable vomiting. I have little choice but to take the pharmaceutical meds when I have the attack, or I'll end up in the ER, getting them dripped into my arm. :-/

    BUT... being really strict about my sodium has helped a lot. My attacks are less severe when I have them, and I don't have them very frequently. Dairy products and grain products can both be pretty high in sodium (even just straight up milk has about 100mg a cup), and both could have other effects that could trigger attacks. I know the blogger behind Tartelette has gluten issues with her Meniere's.

    You should hit me up via e-mail (jj.blooms at and we'll chat. I sometimes have trouble sorting out sodium intake and hard athletics (because you sweat out so much electrolytes), so I'd love to talk to you about what you do and how you eat.

  3. New Diet Taps into Innovative Plan to Help Dieters LOSE 12-23 Pounds within Only 21 Days!