Hey everyone! Glenn here from Mindovermenieres.com. So today I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the lifestyle changes that are known to improve meniere’s disease symptoms. Now I want to be clear that this is not going to be the end-all be-all of your treatment. But many people do respond very positively to making certain lifestyle changes. Now I also should acknowledge that many people do make these lifestyle changes and they still don’t get the level of relief that they’re looking for but everyone is better off by making a few simple changes to the basics of their lifestyle. So we have a few goals here. The first goal is going to be making temporary changes to eliminate all of the common meniere’s disease triggers from your environment there are a lot of specific variables that can exacerbate and trigger symptoms and everyone experiences this different differently but there are many in common and so the first step is going to be temporarily eliminating everything that commonly triggers Meniere’s disease symptoms. Now the second goal here is to improve your general sense of health to give your body the best possible chance at fighting this off. If you’re if you’re sick or unhealthy and other aspects of your life your body is going to be wasting resources addressing those specific things rather than sending those resources to try to fight Meniere’s disease. The third goal here is going to be to narrow it down and identify your specific triggers. Now like I said, everyone’s different so you’re going to eventually be able to find the specific things that trigger you and not other people. And the fourth goal here is going to be to just try to discover the things that make you feel better and to add a lot more of that into your life. So it’s a pretty simple process. I’m not going going to address anything medical here so obviously first you’re going to want to find a doctor. Specifically I recommend looking for a highly-rated neurotologist, which is an ENT doctor who has sub-specialized in treating balance and hearing disorders and they tend to have the most experience treating and diagnosing Meniere’s disease and other vestibular disorders. And you can find highly-rated one near you on healthgrades.com so make sure to find a good doctor to coordinate your medical treatment. And I also want you to track everything as you go about this process. I created a free tool to help you do this called the Mind Over Meniere’s Symptom Trigger tool. The idea is simple, you just fill one out each day and it helps you track specific aspects of your diet and environment and lifestyle and then you can go back and compare the days when your symptoms are at their worst or at their best and see what was in common among those days. So tracking everything and journaling is going to be a really important part of making these lifestyle changes and I will have links to everything in the video notes below. Okay now let’s get on to the lifestyle changes themselves. So the first change is going to be improving your diet. Now many of you probably know that sodium or too much sodium can be a trigger for a lot of people so reducing your sodium intake down and spreading it out as evenly as possible over the course of the day is going to be potentially very helpful. You know most ENTs will recommend somewhere between 1,200 milligrams a day and 2000mg a day. What I found is that what matters more is keeping a level concentration in your body throughout the day. So make sure to drink a lot of water and don’t not eat very much sodium all day and they need a massive sodium meal for dinner. That’s enough to trigger a lot of people. It certainly does for me, so trying to reduce your sodium intake and spreading it out over the course of the day is going to be very important. To do this, it’s going to require a shift in thinking of how you purchase food. Obviously you’re going to want to start reading the FDA nutrition labels on everything you buy at the grocery store. A lot of times you can find one brand versus another of the same product that has less sodium so just get in the habit of checking sodium content of all the foods you eat. And keep in mind that all the parts of a meal are going to factor in. You’re going to want to avoid heavily processed foods and food ingredients as well a lot of canned foods and frozen foods and boxed and bag foods tend to have a much higher sodium content, so you’re going to want to look for that. Snacking becomes a challenge here also, so finding a nice variety of snacks at 50 milligrams or less of sodium per serving I find to be very helpful. For me early on it was one of the biggest… it was one of the biggest wins I had, when I was able to snack without worrying about going over my sodium limit. So I’ll make sure to include some links to different low-sodium snack foods to make it easy for you guys. Also when you go out to restaurants you know make sure to tell the chef or ask ask the waiter if the chef can prepare your meal without sodium. And be very clear about this. Tell them you have a medical condition, that it is very important and don’t take you know, “We can do no extra added sodium for you” as an answer. Be clear that your meal is going to be safe for you to eat but also work towards eating healthy you know try if possible try to get you know go towards fresh organic fruits a lot of fresh organic fruits and vegetables when it comes to me I find grass fed, pastured meat like pigs and chickens and steak are a much healthier choice when it comes to meat. Local farmers markets and green markets are a good place to find you know fresh local healthy foods. Also watch your sugar intake. There’s sugar in everything nowadays and whether that’s high fructose corn syrup or regular sugar or the variety of other sugars that are used, it doesn’t matter. The point is, some people find that too much sugar is a trigger for them, so to try to reduce your intake. It’s okay to indulge every now and then but practice moderation is a good rule of thumb. Just practice moderation. Also keep in mind that overeating is a stress to the body as well and that can be a trigger, so eat slowly, eat smaller portions, and stop eating when you feel full. It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough food, but too much food can be a bad thing. Also when it comes to dietary changes there’s a few things you’re going to want to cut out, at least for now. Until you get a better idea of how each thing affects you specifically. You can always add things back in later on and test, but it’s a good idea whether you’re just starting out or if you’re symptoms are flaring up to stop consuming things like caffeine which is a common trigger, so coffee, dark chocolate, anything that has caffeine can be triggering, so cut out the caffeine. Alcohol – a lot of people find that alcohol is a trigger for them. Obviously not everyone, but for the time being, limit or cut out your alcohol intake. Tobacco and nicotine – nicotine is a big trigger for a lot of people. I know how hard it is to quit smoking. I smoked for a very long time but it makes a massive difference on your health. After I was diagnosed, I remember I went back and I i tried to chew a piece of nicorette gum just to see what would happen, and I immediately got extremely dizzy and felt like I was on the edge of a vertigo attack. So nicotine has pronounced effect, at least on me, so I encourage you to quit smoking or consuming nicotine products if you can. And recreational drugs as well. I don’t condone recreational drug use but I acknowledge the fact that they’re part of our culture. For the time being I recommend abstaining from any recreational drugs. Try to figure out what’s triggering you, what’s causing you to feel the way you’re feeling, and you can always come back to things later on. Ok so the next major category of lifestyle changes has to do with your mental well-being and your stress levels. Stress and chronic stress are massive meniere’s disease triggers for just about everyone. I know I said these are the common triggers, But I have yet to meet a person who is not triggered by increases in their stress load. So you’re going to want to make a conscious effort to reduce stress and avoid high stress activi ties. There’s a few good ways to do this. One is to start a simple meditation practice. Meditation in its most purest form is a mental exercise that trains you to control your thoughts and your focus and to quiet your mind, to quiet that internal monologue. But it’s also a powerful tool for reducing anxiety and stress. So I’m going to include in the video notes several simple meditation techniques for you to try. Meditation is the thing that made the biggest difference for me and my stress levels, and I know I would not have been able to cope as well as I have with meniere’s disease were not for meditation. So I’m a huge proponent of meditation and again, I’ll have lots of links for you to check out below. Also if it’s possible, I recommend finding either a therapist or a or a good support group, whether that’s online or in person, to talk to. Meniere’s disease can be a very traumatic experience and that can cause an increase in stress and anxiety and all sorts of complications on mental health. So having a mental health professional to help talk through with you and help you work through your problems can not only improve your stress levels but can improve your overall outlook as well. I find it to be a very effective coping tool. So moving on from mental health and stress. Exercise! Obviously there’s going to be some challenges here when when you’re having a lot of vertigo. It’s going to be very difficult to just start exercising. But it’s very important. Even walking for 10 to 20 minutes a day is better than nothing and it’s enough to trigger a release of endorphins, your body’s feel-good hormones which improve stress levels and can make you feel really good. So these are all very effective coping tools. If you’re having issues with balance I recommend starting with stationary equipment like a treadmill, or even better, a stationary bicycle. It’s a powerful way to start improving your health and improving your overall fitness is going to pay out dividends in the long run. The next thing is sleep. Your sleep is going to be critical to your recovery here. For me, insomnia and sleep deprivation is probably my biggest trigger. When I don’t get enough sleep, my health starts to break down in a very noticeable way and that’s a big problem. So I’ve written a lot about improving your sleep, I’ll give you a few simple suggestions here, and then I will link to more in the notes below. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. I find getting yourself on a routine is very helpful, especially if you do the same things every night before you fall asleep. That can help your brain to associate those things with falling asleep and as you know whether it’s reading or spending time with a loved one, very quickly just doing those activities begins to trigger you.. will trigger you to get very tired and want to start falling asleep. So that’s a very powerful practice. Also try to avoid backlit screens for 90 minutes before you go to bed. So that’s you know your iPhone, your phone, your tablet, your computer, TV, all of these things can degrade the quality of your sleep and make it harder to fall asleep. I’m not going to go into why that is here and if you need to be able to use these devices, there are a few ways to get around this short coming, and i’ll link to that in the notes below, but avoiding backlit screens 90 minutes before you go to bed can really help. Making sure your bedroom is pitch-black, whether that’s by wearing a sleep mask or blocking off all sources of ambient light will help you sleep better. Making sure that your bedroom is the right temperature can be very beneficial and make you sleep better. Scientists found that the ideal temperature for sleep is actually 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit – much colder than most people would think. You don’t want to be cold at that temperature, you want to be warm under your blankets, but you can fall asleep much more easily when the bedroom is the right temperature so keep that in mind. Also there’s some specific challenges with tinnitus and having ringing in your ears when falling asleep. Obviously it’s much louder in silence, so if you have your hearing, things like white noise can be helpful, and I have written extensively about falling asleep with tinnitus, so I’ll make sure to link to that in the notes below as well. And the final piece here of the lifestyle changes is allergies. Allergies tend to be a big trigger for a lot of people and not just allergies but food sensitivities as well. So if you know you’re allergic or sensitive to certain foods or certain things in your environment, when possible, try to avoid them. Obviously if you’re allergic to something like pollen or dust, you know things that you can’t control, daytime antihistamines like Zytrec which is a Cetirizine, and others, can be helpful… can be helpful to get you through or something stronger if your doctor recommends, but I find that allergy testing can be a huge help when dealing with this stuff. If you can have a doctor you know do the skin test and the scratch test, and show you what you’re allergic to, you can take steps to avoid those things right away. And a lot of times that can make a big difference in how you feel. So these are just some of the basic things that you can do to start improving your life, improving your lifestyle, and improving your symptoms. And for some people it can be everything. For some people, they’ll find near total relief from this and for others they might find just a small bit of improvement, but either way it’s a great starting point and it’s something that I think everyone should do before trying more invasive and more risky procedures and and medical approaches. And i’ll leave you with one final thought on this. I know that making all these changes is very hard. It’s hard to change, even small changes. But to change everything at once can be very challenging. So a few things here. One, remember to frame it as a temporary change. You can do anything you want for a short period of time, so you’re just temporarily eliminating the things that are known to be troublesome to people within Meniere’s disease in an attempt to improve your symptoms. Over time and with tracking, you’re going to start identifying the specific things that are triggering you and you can start adding back in the things that are triggering you. So there’s no reason to think you can never have a piece of chocolate or a cup of coffee ever again. You may tolerate a cup of coffee perfectly well. Also following a fixed routine can be very helpful when adapting to these lifestyle changes. It saves you from having to decide every day to make the right choices. So like I mentioned with sleep, going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday, but eating at the same time everyday, exercising at the same time everyday, meditating at the same time every day. The more you can get yourself on a rigid schedule, at least early on, the easier it’s going to be to maintain these lifestyle changes and the quicker you’ll be able to identify the specific changes that you need to make long-term. So I hope you’ve all found this helpful! I will have everything linked up, lots of extra notes and techniques and tools in the video description below. So be sure to check that out and until next time everybody, have a great day!