Saturday, August 22, 2009

Meniere’s disease and exercise

Up until I started to have Meniere’s disease, I use to walk every day. And there was a time in my life (when I had more time) that I use to run each day. Those days unfortunately are all over. But should they be just because of my condition? I need to take a deeper look at Meniere’s disease and exercise.

From my late teens to my early thirties I ran all the time. I was in great physical shape, then I had a disc flattened out in my back and the running came to an end. But I still walked everyday and it was great mentally and physically. There is something about walking that clears your head and makes you think better. Running is similar but it takes more of a toll on the body.

Then came Meniere’s…

I still tried to walk and it worked for a little while. But with the attacks coming every few days it was difficult to get into a rhythm of walking regularly. I would walk a few days then I was off my feet for a few days. It was frustrating and so I quit. I know that I shouldn’t have but I did.

I have received many e-mails from folks talking about the benefits of Meniere’s disease and exercise. I think that I am going to try to walk again, not much at first but build it up to at least 30 minutes a day. I also wish that I could swim more but I worry too much about my ears being filled with water.
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41 comments:

  1. dear david, i am also suffering from meniere's syndrome(way i like to call it).in my experience walking about 35-40 minutes,very early in the morning has helped me a lot,physically and mentally.try this.regards-sham lanke

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  2. I used to walk and it is beneficial to your physical and mental health.

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  3. My mom has meneires disease. I dont know how on earth she is going to excersice what with her getting attacks with every little move she makes, but after hearing this, I'm going to try and find some way to get her to start walking. Thank you. :D

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  4. She might want to check with her doctor before starting any exercise program to see how much and how often she can exercise.

    Start slow, don't do too much at one time and make sure that she is safe while she exercises.

    good luck to you and your mother
    keep in touch

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  5. I went the other way. As the meniere's took over, I started to run more. I could not run fast, but it really did seem to clear the cobwebs at least temporarily. You also can have some wierd sensations when running, like the feeling that you are not actually running in your body(?), a disconnected feeling, or a feeling of running above the running surface. I would always feel much better afterward at least for awile. Immediately after an attack a run was out of the question, though. A word of warning, if using a treadmill, be very careful stepping off the treadmill afterward. You will get some of those same feelings of disequilibrium.

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  6. Doug,
    I have had some experiences with treadmills that I don't want to repeat.
    thanks for commenting
    David

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  7. David, I have Menier's and I am a triathlete! You can still do it! You just have to be careful about it! I am on some medication that takes care of the worst of it - and there are some days where it is out of the question - at least the swimming and the running - but I can always cycle on my windtrainer in the garage. I have found that if I do it early as soon as I get up and break a sweat for some reason my side effects are lessened GREATLY!

    I have worked throught he worst of it and swam with a flew blown episode but moved to the shallow end of the pool - becuase I freaked out a bit. But I learned - earplugs a really good set are the trick there and to make sure no cold water goes inthe ears! And worst case scenario if I did the breast stroke I could manage to finish the workout. Also running - I tend to run outdoors more because the treadmill just seems to make it really bad - unless I can stand to focus all of my attention on just one point the entire time.

    But don't give up! I did much better after this hit becuase I worked through it - the doctors were amazed that I had figured out some of the little tricks you can use to keep your balance and when it really got bad before my medicines were adjusted I did have to back off almost completely - but when I did the vertigo that goes with this just worsened - so I kept up the cycling and doing whatever I could. But I swear - the excercise in the morning really helps and when I don't do it - I am a little unstable and have a much harder time.

    Get back to it - you will feel beter!

    Allie Largent - San Antonio - TX

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  8. Allie,
    you are a true inspiration to all of us! I wish I had that much energy to do all that. Keep up that wonderful spirit and keep in touch.
    David

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  9. Hi,

    I was diagnosed with MD approx 3 years ago and it really started to affect my life; however, I am determined not to let this happen anymore, I do 3 hours of Cardio work in the gym each week and walk over 4 miles each day to and from work.

    I have even managed to referee two football games every Sunday, as I said I am determinednot to let this illness stop me, there are some days when I am so tired of feeling off balance that I do want to just curl up and do nothing but I try my hardest to push myself through this.

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  10. Like Allie you are an inspiration to us all. It is difficult to keep a positive outlook and push onward with this disorder.
    keep in touch
    thanks
    David

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  11. I was recently diagnosed with Meniere's after having four major bouts of vertigo in less than 9 months and a solid 3 months of unbalance daily. All of your postings are very informative. Good to know that exercise is helpful and that the morning is best.

    Thanks to all

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  12. Hi Marla,
    You really have had it rough with meniere's, I hope you find something to help relieve the symptoms.
    thanks for the comment and stay in touch
    David

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  13. My doctor suspects that I have Meniere's Disease but until I am officially diagnosed by an ENT specialist, it is simply a hunch.

    For the past few months, I have suffered debilitating attacks which have seen me knocked out for days on end. Even moving my head from a sitting to a standing position results in feelings of nausea.

    This past Monday, I suffered my most extreme attack whereby I couldn't walk, my vision was impaired, I was vomiting and sweating. The episode lasted all morning.

    I've been very scared to exercise as on two occasions it was after visiting the gym that my attacks began. Also, as I am in between jobs, I'm scared I'll never be able to work again as nobody would want to hire me given my unconfirmed condition.

    Having read this blog, I now understand that I can't simply hide away and stop living which is essentially what I have been doing. I can exercise, I can help myself so other than cutting out the caffeine, I should force myself to walk on the good days.

    For the past month, I have just been hiding away as I assumed my life was over. I am so scared about the future so it's good to know that you can live with Meniere's and have some quality of life.

    Thank you all for inspiring me to fight...

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  14. I have Meniere's disease and a 2 yr old daughter. Talk about dizziness, all she wants to do is play. I too want to exercise, but am afraid of attacks. I'm able to fight off dizziness most of the day, but by 4:00pm, it all starts to hit. Do you get the brain fog, where it's hard to concentrate? I swear I'm gonna get alzheimers and I've read others get the fog too.

    Have you tried walking more since this was all posted? How'd it go? I want another child so badly, but that means no meds while pregnant. I'm trying to find any methods possible to relieve the symptoms naturally.

    :). Jen

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  15. @anonymous
    It sounds like you have been having a real time with the meniere’s attacks. I can also remember when I first started having attacks and thinking that my life was over. The non-stop spinning and vomiting put me in a place of desperation that I thought I would never be able to climb out of. But I did, although it is still tough at times I know that there will be better times ahead.

    You are right about living your life you don’t want this disorder to control you or ruin the things that you want to do. Keep fighting, it will get better.
    Thanks for sharing your story and stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.
    David



    @Jen,
    I know what you mean about trying to play with your children. I have a nine year old son and he has a hard time understanding why I am limited in doing some things with him. Brain fog is also a problem of mine especially after a severe attack.

    I really need to start walking but lately I have been really tired. I don’t know if it is the meds or what. I hope that you find another way to relieve your symptoms so you can have more children.
    Stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.
    David

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  16. hi
    i just wanted to share some information that i just found out by my doctor that may help improve meniere disease. it is a vitamin that improves circulation in the inner ear. it is called LIPO-FLAVONOID. i just bought it so i dont know if it works yet but its worth a try. it is not cheap it is around $30 for 100 caplets. hope this help!

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  17. Hi,
    thanks for the comment and for the information.
    David

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  18. Hi,
    Before i have MD, im active in sports during high school. I'm 40 yo now. I was diagnose with MD last 3 years. The first 2 years was totally suffering with full blown of MD. After taking medication (serc), the condition improve but sometimes with mild attack. last 6 moth ive started to walk and run for few miles. I realized that after exercise, sweat and stiff leg, my body immune system started to improve. Im feeling better now and guess what, for the first time in my life i ve completed half marathon last month ! The feeling was awesome. Pls do not give up ! You are not alone.

    SHeek Hian
    Malaysia.
    spila98@gmail.com

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  19. Hi all, recently I also got diagnosed with MD some 6 months back. life has become miserable after that. I have a 2 1/2 yr. old daughter who wants to play every time with dad but I can't in fear of vertigo. Am an "AYURVEDIC DOCTOR" from India. I started ginger juice with honey daily morning. It really helped me. Initially I used to have severe vertigo with vomiting and heavy perspiration but now the duration and severity have reduced. Now some time have small bouts of vertigo but again they pass of after a while. I too got too much worried about my and my family future but after reading all the posts over here am bit consoled that we have to stand hard and lead the life. As a doctor I can say one thing firmly "STRESS" is definitively a major aggravating factor for MD. In majority of MD cases childhood and early adulthood stress is the cause. So alternatively regular exercise along with yoga and pranayam definatly helps a lot. Still am in search of some proper medications which might offer help for MD. Some mild herbal diuretics are giving good results. Thanks for this good platform to share once sufferings.

    Warm Regards,

    Dr. Sachin Rewar
    Delhi

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  20. Dr. Rewar, it's interesting that you found ginger juice and honey to be helpful, as well as some herbal diuretics.

    Would you share which herbal remedies you have used that have helped you?

    I have heard that meditation might be a good way to help prevent or lessen some MD symptoms, so I'm trying to do more yoga, and meditation on its own, too.

    I hope you find more consistent relief from your symptoms. For me, the worst thing about MD is that nothing seems to help all the time. The disease is so unpredictable. I've had remissions that lasted many months or even a year or two, but eventually the problems have always come back.

    I had the labyrinthectomy surgery in October 2010, and have only had one full-scale attack since then, but I am afraid every day that the vertigo and nausea will start again.

    Please let us know if you find anything else that you think works. I sometimes think the best chance for MD sufferers is doctors who have experienced the symptoms and feel a strong, personal urge to do something about it.

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  21. Dear Peggy..

    I found "Gokshuradi Guggulu" an mild ayurvedic diuretic tablet to be useful in MD. It is to be taken as 1 tablet morning and evening 30 minutes before meals with plain water. Others measures which helps in MD is restricted salt intake to 2 gms per day or rather below that. Strictly avoiding fast/junk/bakery items/foods/cold drinks/packaged food. Having knowledge of how much salt content is their in each vegetables and edible items will also help in regulating the intake of salt.

    Warm Regards,

    Dr. Sachin Rewar

    drsachinrewar@yahoo.co.in

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  22. I had heard about a lot of the dietary restrictions that help with Meniere's, but I'm curious about ayurvedic or what we call "alternative medicine" and it's possible role in alleviating the symptoms of MD. My husband and I are very interested in herbal remedies, and I'd love to know more about which ones can help, whether they are diuretics or another type of medication.

    Is it safe to take the Gokshuradi Guggulu for a long time? I know prescription diuretics are not recommended for long-term use in the US, but presumably this would be quite different.

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  23. Dear Peggy,

    Ya it is absolutely safe to have "Gokshuradi guggulu" for a long time. It won't have any side effect as its purely herbal medicine.

    Warm Regards.

    Dr. Sachin Rewar

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  24. Two points: First, I believe it's not necessarily true that just because something is herbal that means it's free of side effects. Second, it seems from websites I just checked that Gokshuradi Guggulu is primarily for men, given the emphasis I saw on prostate health and sexual performance.

    So I think maybe I will steer clear of it; but thanks for giving me food for thought.

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  25. I am dealing with an attack as I write. The fullness in my left ear is challenging. I am going to try to do my workout and then drinks lots of lemon water. Thanks for all that shared about how they can exercise. I do know that my healing comes from Jesus who is my Lord and Savior and that He will not give me more than I can handle 1 Corin 10:13....
    God bless to you all.
    Karen

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  26. Hang in there Karen and good luck
    David

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  27. buy a one person camping bed thats higher then the ground.. lay on it while ur feet on the ground then sit still and go back to ur right side then sit still and go back to the left side.. just couple of times before u sleep... not easy and painful in the begin but it really helped me.. its kinda exercising the ears as my doctor said.. in less then a month i started yoga again and swimming. betserc medicine with ginseng pills is good as the stress we have will cause us more difficulties in the future so good vitamins are important.
    sarah

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  28. Sarah, that exercise is one they recommend for BPPV (bening positional paroxysmal vertigo). That's the vertigo you get when the tiny crystals in the inner ear are knocked out of position. It isn't Meniere's, so if that exercise is helping you a lot, you might not have Meniere's, but rather BPPV. And that would be a very good thing, since BPPV is a lot easier to deal with.

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  29. ola
    i am someone that loves sports, all my life i have been active, and to this day i still believe one of my triggers for menieres was doing bodybuilding to heavily. the neck area is very close to the ears.
    low impact is the key, the ones that suit me most are tai chi, swimming and cycling.
    i stay away from the high impacts like running, tennis (i can get away with 1 set), body building etc.
    you must keep active, as not increasing your heart beat over 120bpm 3 times a week can have long term implications. menieres is a war on the body: fight it, question it, and find your triggers.
    love ali

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  30. hello david
    regarding swimming, wear high end ear plugs, i never get any water in my ears, i wear these
    Speedo Biofuse Aquatic Swimming Ear Plug, they work just fine.
    ali

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  31. I need some advice. Alright, so I haven't been diagnosed with Meniere's yet, but I have two of the symptoms. I have major fullness in my right ear. It feels like someone has blown up a balloon. I also have been dealing with dizziness for about 5 months almost constant. Some days are worse than others. I recently saw my third ENT and he is sending me for balance testing (hearing and pressure test was normal). He did put me on a restricted sodium diet and that seems to be helping with the fullness and dizziness. My diet seems to really affect how I feel. Too much salt or sugar send me into spins. I should mention I had Bell's palsy 6 months ago. I am trying to figure out if this is the beginning of Meniere's now or something else. If any of you have any ideas let me know. Thanks! Jess I

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  32. Jess, I think only time will tell whether you have Meniere's or not, but I think it's good that you're modifying your diet and getting further tests. I'd say keep on maintaining the "Meniere's diet" in case it helps prevent you from experiencing the worst of it by early intervention.

    When I started Meniere's, my hearing wasn't affected for about three years. I had dizziness for weeks on end, then I would have an attack of severe vertigo and get violently sick. After the attack, which would be pretty short, I would feel fine again.

    But I started to notice that I was also getting episodes of loud tinnitus in my left ear, and it became very difficult to hear. Once the vertigo and vomiting set in, the tinnitus would go away and my hearing would be fine again until I began feeling dizzy again. Sometimes almost a year would go by before I had another attack.

    It wasn't until I'd been having these attacks once or twice a year for three years that I realized that my hearing was going downhill. I had it tested, and that's when I was diagnosed.

    You might have it, but you might not. I hope not. And there does seem to be a connection between Meniere's and Bell's palsy, if you Google that word combination.

    Keep consulting your doctor any time you feel symptoms, and keep up with the diet. Do some online research to educate yourself about the possibilities. Try not to stress out about it because you might be one of the lucky ones. :)

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  33. I find roadbiking on mostly flat trails is better than walking which jogs your head up and down. On the bike, my upper body is still, and the rest of me works. I have a very light, carbon fiber bike which helps.

    Keep off the chocolate and salt, only a bit of dairy, and lots of water.

    Use VertigoHeel on script (Cocculus Compositum OTC). Ann

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  34. Hi Ann,
    That is a good point about jogging and bike riding, although my bike is stationary:)

    I'm glad that the vertigoHeel works for you
    stay in touch
    and thanks for commenting
    David

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  35. I was first diagnosed with MD about 20 years ago. I suffered terribly for around 5 years, anxiety much of the time, attacks that lasted hours. Finally, living in S. Cal. I was made aware of the House Ear Clinic by an chance encounter (I'm still frustrated that none of the ENTs I saw in Ventura recommended it) Saw Dr. Bracken there who performed the shunt operation and ALL the symptoms were gone within 30 days. He did say that I might have problems again in 10 years. Well, it's been 15 and I started having tinnitus about a month ago in the same ear. Had 2 episodes of whirling vertigo 3 weeks ago but each time they only lasted a few minutes. Was lucky to have been able to get an appointment at the House Clinic within a few days and I was put on prednisone for 2 weeks. It was reduced the tinnitus by 95%, the hearing in my ear is good again the the "fullness" has almost disappeared. Meanwhile, I have had to lose weight because of back problems so I have been riding my bicycle about 10-12 hours a week HARD (used to race) and sweating like crazy on most rides. I am feeling better and better with the exercise. I did go back on about 1500 mg of sodium daily (no diuretics). Back to the House Clinic tomorrow for a follow-up and to discuss what the future may be like. But right now, I'm encouraged that there have been no more episodes in the past 3 weeks and I really believe that just eating well and continuing to exercise will go a long way. Back 1st time around, I was not able to put in the time to ride as much as I can now, work and all that. So we'll see. I think frame of mind can make a big difference but I can't minimize the trust I have in the House Clinic, they are fabulous.

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  36. Hi Murray,
    thanks for comment, although I have read that the shunt operation isn't always effective. Hopefully it works for you
    thanks
    David

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  37. I have not yet been diagnosed with MD, but I suspect that I have the disease. I am 29 and have been having dizziness problems since I was 16 years old. At first it wasn't that bad, I could drive or go to places without much problem and I didn't have any full-blown attacks until 2011. I suffered bad vertigo and unsteadiness way before that (from 2009 to now) but never got the AWFUL attacks. Since 8 months I had about a dozen of them. They last between 2-5 hours and all I have to do is lay still on my back, can't turn my head left or right; it's SO scary and my heart beats like 120, sometimes I develop a migraine during and I have cold sweats, etc). I also have tinnitus badly and a little pressure and a little pain in my ear. I guess I have no hearing loss (did a hearing test back in 2006 and came out normal). I can't drive anymore, or go outside, even take a walk. I'm home 24/7 and it ruined my life. Went to the ear doctor, told me I had to do a CT Scan, even with the detailed way I explained my symptoms to him. It sucks because I don't want to do the CT Scan, it's too dangerous (with all the radiation). Anyway... long story short, I'm still having these attacks, and am VERY stressed, always scared and waiting for another attack to come. I'm always unsteady and unbalanced, can't even shower well without being scared and so many other things.
    I can't even exercise anymore. I used to exercise 1 hour/daily on the treadmill. I feel like the vertigo is getting worse and worse.
    Oh and do any of you suffer this symptom: I started seeing crooked... It feels like as if the right side of my vision is slightly downward (sometimes a lot). It may seem weird but it's unfortunately true. I am not taking any medication as my doctor doesn't want to do anything without me taking a CT Scan. Did all of you got diagnosed with MD thanks to a CT Scan of is it just my doctor? I am so desperate. Thankfully I have Ativan to take when my vertigo gets worse.. And a month ago, I started taking Ginkgo Biloba, which apparently helps alleviate symptoms of vertigo (usually takes more than a month to start having an effect). Thanks for your blog, wanted to share my experience!

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  38. I don't think you need to worry about the radiation unless you are having CT scans or X-rays done quite frequently. However, I wonder why your doctor recommended a CT rather than an MRI? I've had several MRIs in the past three years, all related to my Meniere's and to some migraine symptoms I've had.

    The reason for the CT is not to diagnose MD; it is to rule out other possibilities. A tumor could cause similar symptoms, and for that reason it's important that you have some kind of imaging tests done.

    Without any hearing loss, it isn't very likely that you have MD, but you could have migraine-associated vertigo or something else. There are a lot of things that can cause vertigo, and the CT can narrow down the field of candidates. I would have it done if I were you.

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    1. I have read a lot about CT and from the information I gathered, first exposure is still very risky.
      I have already done an MRI back in November and they did not find anything. Dr told me if I have something wrong in my ear, the CT would find it, not the MRI :( Also, I have this dizziness for almost 13 years now, I doubt it's a tumor or something.
      Thanks for the suggestion.. But I still am very afraid of this CT thing. But will think about it :)

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    2. Also the ear doctor told me he would be able to figure out if I have MD from the CT scan. He suspected I may have a problem in my semi circular canals (obviously). I also suspect Cervical vertigo, but no doctors ever decided on a diagnosis, which is very frustrating.

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  39. It was my understanding that repeated scans are what is dangerous, but I can understand not wanting to do it at all. Unfortunately, I'm not any kind of expert on different kinds of imaging, so I don't know why a CT would find something that an MRI can't.

    I think if I were you I'd seek a second opinion. Is there another ENT specialist you could consult on this? It sounds like you could use another expert on your case. There isn't a definitive test for Meniere's, but many tests that can help to find other problems.

    I hope you get an answer soon.

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