Can what I eat cause vertigo

Can what I eat cause vertigo is probably the second most common question I am asked. The most common is… can stress cause my vertigo?

Can what I eat cause vertigo
Salt contains sodium that may contribute towards Meniere’s disease.

Now, trying to answer that is like opening a can of worms! We all have stress, but not all of us has vertigo. Yes, obviously when you have a proven allergy to some dietary compound, eating it may cause symptoms, allergic reactions, anaphylaxis and even death! I know of patients allergic to sea food that gets symptoms only by entering the kitchen where it is prepared, obviously inhaling the allergens.

But when it comes to vertigo the question is whether there are dietary factors that may be responsible or even contribute towards vertigo and dizziness. In my practice, one of the most common causes of vertigo that I see is vestibular migraine, often a confusing term as patients may not necessarily always present with headaches coupled to the vertigo. If you suffer from migraine it is worthwhile looking at your diet.

Since a relationship exists between Meniere’s disease (MD) and vestibular migraine it is worthwhile for patients suffering from MD to follow or at least look at a migraine diet.

Isolated MD or endolymphatic hydrops on the other hand is a tricky condition, often manifesting with symptoms at unpredictable times. Salt restriction is hailed as the corner stone of prevention. Yes, I do prescribe it but I do not think it really helps. Avoiding surgery, only in 5% of patients is still worthwhile advocating salt restriction. The rationale around this is reducing sodium intake (present in salt) helps to regulate and avoid fluid build-up, endolymphatic hydrops and MD in the ear. The importance of a salt restriction diet is to stabilize the sodium, avoiding fluctuation. The irony of the salt restriction diet is that it actually advocates reducing it to between 1500- 2300mg/day, depending on ethnicity which is what is indicated for healthy people in any case! It is estimated that the average intake per person in the USA is 3400mg /day. Another problem is that in an attempt to lower sodium, taking less than 1gm of salt per day may actually be harmful! Salt intake should not be equated to sodium intake. Salt also contains chloride.

Sugar is just as important as this may influence fluid balance in the inner ear. We know it may lead to diabetes and vascular problems, compromising the inner ear and brain.

Alcohol definitely influences the inner ear and inhibits the brain and cerebellum thus causesing dizziness and vertigo. On the other hand, alcohol is a diuretic causing fluid loss in the hydrops ear and relieving anxiety!

The same amounts for caffeine, a diuretic on the one hand and may improve hydrops yet aggravating tinnitus from MD on the other hand.

So, in the absence of real scientific proof I can only add to keeping everything always in moderation the following as so well highlighted by Dr TC Hain, neurologist from Chicago, USA:

  1. Distribute your food and fluid intake evenly throughout the day and from day to day
  2. Avoid eating foods or fluids which have a high salt content
  3. Drink adequate amounts of fluid daily.
  4. Avoid caffeine-containing fluids and foods
  5. Limit your alcohol intake to one glass of beer or wine each day.
  6. Avoid foods containing MSG (monosodium glutamate).
  7. Avoid aspirin and medications that contain aspirin if possible.
  8. Avoid caffeine-containing medications.
  9. Pay attention to the content of all over-the-counter medications as well as drugs prescribed by other physicians.

Besides moderation I advise perhaps seeing a dietician and to regulate and monitor sodium intake. There are also help on the internet available. One suggested source mentioned is the “” website.