Vestibular disorders: what are they and how to cope with them?

Recently I got a client of vestibular issues, his symptoms showed up as dizziness and not migraine; however, my mum manifested the same vestibular issue as dizziness that lasted more than a few minutes and nausea. Let’s understand what this issue is all about. Vestibular refers to the inner ear and brain, that which processes sensory information involved with controlling the balance, your hearing and eye movements. Symptoms of a vestibular issue present differently for different people. These could range from the following –

Symptoms of vestibular disorder

  1. Nausea and vomiting
  2. Dizziness (sudden vertigo: spinning, swaying, loss of balance) which could last a few minutes
  3. Balance issues
  4. Sensitivity to loud noises
  5. Feeling uneasy
  6. Headaches
  7. Bacterial infection
  8. Tinnitus
  9. Labyrinthitis (inner ear infection, causing inflammation within the ear known as labyrinth)
  10. Perilymphatic fistula (PLF)

Causes of vestibular disorder

In my client’s case he was operated on the vestibular nerve, hence the issue was persisting. In my mother’s case a lot of medication was causing an imbalance in the inner ear. However, viral infections at birth, any disorders that affect the inner ear fluid, head injuries, and age-related degeneration can cause vestibular issues.

Treatment of vestibular issue

Treatment of course, will depend on what was the underlying cause of the issue in the first place. What this issue really needs is treatment via a sound food plan and also lifestyle shifts. Surgery maybe be needed in extreme cases.

A vestibular diet

An anti-inflammatory approach works well to help alleviate symptoms I order to restore some key factors like a supply of steady sugars to the brain, such that sleep is sound and controlling anxiety around imbalance issues. 

  1. Stay off sugars, sugary foods, refined carbohydrates; colas, sodas, soft drinks; hidden sugars in packaged foods, processed foods (especially MSG-mono sodium glutamate). This will keep you away from sugar spikes and also cause less anxiety and control cravings. Minimize alcohol, any energy drinks with caffeine and caffeine.
  2. Complex carbohydrates are vestibular-friendly and a good source of sugars and fibre, and also promotes smooth functioning of the digestive tract; ensuring proper waste elimination. Here, I cannot emphasize the necessity of whole grains from a brown/red rice to any good millet that really aids with the amounts of antioxidants and anti-aging benefits (brown rice alone has 70 anti-aging antioxidants). If someone is insulin resistant, it helps to keep these at a modicum in the diet. So minimize what you may have in the day, 20% of daily volume consumption works well.
  3. Good quality protein helps you stay satiated, keep blood sugars stable. Protein also maintains our muscles; your intestinal lining has muscle fibres; this means lean protein if you eat fish and meats and plant-based protein if you are a vegetarian/vegan. Excess protein (animal protein) is not good for you, so balance it with vegetables and greens. We don’t want those pathways getting blocked we must maintain the quality of blood being clean and not toxic.
  4. Vegetables, which not only have good quality fibre; especially coloured vegetables that have plenty of beta carotene that converts to Vitamin A to repair skin (of the gut lining). Plus, leafy greens and green vegetables (also in the form of barley grass or wheat grass), these mimic the blood structure and are necessary for cleansing the blood and the much needed chlorophyll they provide.
  5. Fermented foods, serve a crucial part of any diet plan supplying good amounts of probiotics to nourish our guts. Foods like sauerkraut, quick pickles, non-dairy kefir, kimchi are highly recommended.
  6. Nuts and seeds bring in the trace minerals, good fats and oils that are needed.
  7. Fruits again provide a plethora of vitamins and antioxidants to help gut repair.
  8. Just the right amount of water or liquids as too much will loosen and expand our tissues, a lot of water comes from the foods you eat. An excess of liquids puts a pressure on the kidneys, bladder and sweat glands as well; making us tired over time. We need just enough, one way of measuring this is to ask ourselves: are we really thirsty?
  9. Workout and exercise regularly, and keep your lifestyle in-check by establishing a regular eating habits, sleep habits and positive thoughts.
  10. Good fast via: fatty oily fish, flax seeds.

Lifestyle aids for vestibular issues

  1. Stretching specially with head and neck exercises are great to keep circulation going in the upper neck region.
  2. Rocking back and forth in a rocking chair.
  3. Sitting and bouncing on a medicine ball, has a calming effect on the nerves.
  4. Practicing yoga or tai chi (slow movement).
  5. Minimizing stress via meditation, pranayama and belly breathing is of great help. 

Note: When I refer to fermented foods, I am referring to naturally fermented foods in the blog, and not those that have been preserved over time, with MSG in them.

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