Ménière's Disease: Eating a Low-Salt Diet
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The vertigo (spinning sensation) experienced in Ménière's disease can be severe and debilitating. There is little you can do to change the intensity of an episode, but eating a low-sodium diet may help reduce the frequency of your episodes. Salt is the most familiar source of sodium.
Evidence exists that restricting sodium to 1,000 mg a day may help those with Ménière's disease.
Eating less salt does not have to be difficult. Following are five keys to decreasing salt in your diet:
More information about vertigo can be found in the following topics:
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The cause of Ménière's disease is unknown, but it may be related to a fluid imbalance in the inner ear. When the fluid builds up, it causes excess pressure. This pressure affects the sensory systems in the inner ear used to maintain balance, which leads to episodes of vertigo.
Salt "attracts" fluids—it makes your body retain excess fluid. So eating less salt may result in less buildup of fluid in the ear and fewer episodes of vertigo. But eating less salt does not reduce the intensity or severity of vertigo during episodes.
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Vertigo in Ménière's disease may be caused by pressure in the ear due to fluid buildup.
Eating less salt may result in less severe episodes of vertigo.
Salt causes the body to retain fluid.
Many of us like to use table salt because it adds flavor to the foods we eat. But salt contains a lot of sodium: 1 teaspoon of salt contains 2 g (2,000 mg) of sodium. Sodium is also found in many prepared foods, both for flavor and for preservation. Evidence exists for restricting sodium intake to 1,000 mg a day for Ménière's disease.
It is well worth the effort for those with Ménière's disease to know how much salt food contains and to limit salt intake.
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Those with Ménière's disease should limit sodium intake to:
Fewer episodes of vertigo means:
Less risk of falling.
Less risk of poor balance.
Limiting the salt in your diet may seem difficult. But if you are aware of the sodium content in foods and avoid high-sodium foods, you will be able to limit your sodium intake to 1,000 mg a day.
Perhaps the major misconception people have when limiting sodium is that the biggest source of sodium in the diet is salt added at the table. This is not true. In general, the biggest source of sodium is processed foods and foods from restaurants. About 66% of the sodium in our diet comes from these sources, while salt added at the table accounts for only about 15% of our sodium intake.
Following are some suggestions to help you limit your sodium intake.
Evaluate your diet
Cook with less salt
When you cook your food, you can cut down on salt by:
Limit salt in your foods
Look for salt in the foods you prepare and try to avoid high-salt foods.
If you do not cook for yourself, let those who help you know that you need a low-salt diet:
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In general, the biggest source of sodium in our diets is:
Salt added at the table.
Processed foods and foods from restaurants.
Salt added in cooking.
Choose the food lowest in salt (you may need to review the general list of foods allowed and foods to avoid):
Fresh green beans
Canned green beans
Green bean casserole
Green beans served at a restaurant
Before you start reducing the salt in your diet, talk to your doctor. He or she will want to know about any changes you are making to your diet and may be able to help you.
For more information on salt and the amount of sodium in food, see the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition website: www.nutrition.gov.
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