Q. I have been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. This causes dizzy spells that come out of nowhere and are totally disabling. They last from 30 minutes to 4 hours.
I saw a specialist who prescribed a diuretic. Unfortunately, the medication itself makes me feel rather dizzy. I tried reducing the dose to half a tablet, but the next day I had two episodes, one complete with nausea and vomiting.
I tried taking it at bedtime and that was better, but still very uncomfortable. At this point I’m afraid to drive. When I go out I have to hold onto my husband’s arm due to the lightheadedness from the medication. Any suggestions you may have would be most appreciated.

A. Ear specialists believe that Meniere’s disease is caused by an imbalance in the fluid of the inner ear. Symptoms include episodes of spinning dizziness lasting longer than 15 minutes accompanied by decreased hearing, pressure and ringing in the ear. Such attacks come and go.
Treatment usually involves a low-salt diet and the diuretic Dyazide (triamterene plus hydrochlorothiazide). Ask your physician if an even lower dose might be worth trying.
When this approach is not helpful, some specialists recommend corticosteroids. They can be given orally or injected through the eardrum. When all else fails, there is a surgical procedure that may help eliminate the condition.
We conducted a one-hour radio interview with specialist Dr. David Kaylie about dizziness and various kinds of balance disorders. You can learn more about it here.

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  1. Keith

    I had dizzy spells when I tilted my head back or waking up in the mornings which lasted for hours,also I had attacks of dizziness and hot sweats and general sickness, this lasted at least 10 years.
    Recently I have done balance exercises which help the brain to send correction messages to control this.
    If you are a male like myself shave whilst balancing on one leg, it aches at first and you wobble but you soon get used to it then you don’t realise it.
    If you’re female try putting on makeup but not eyeliner due to poking in your eye, on one leg if you have a wall mirror.
    I have not had a single dizzy spell since and no medication I just balance and shave.
    I have done this now for 9 months with no problem, hope it helps someone but give it a go.

  2. Dick

    I was diagnosed with Meniere’s in 2007. I’ve been taking Triam 75/50 once per day, and low sodium diet. The problem is that I travel a lot, and you never know how much sodium is in a restaurant meal. Waiters usually don’t know either. Symptoms come on about 4 weeks after a trip, and last for 10 weeks, no matter what I do. Alcohol seems to trigger it also; have never heard about caffeine before, but I don’t drink more than 2 cups of coffee per week, so I never gave it much thought. I’ve had to double my water consumption to keep from passing out from low blood pressure.

  3. Anne

    I have had Meniere’s for almost 10 years with not a lot of relief from doctor’s treatment. About a year ago I learned of a vitamin and supplement regimen called JOH (John of Ohio). John is a biologist who has Meniere’s and developed this regimen. It has a very high success rate, it’s working for me. My symptoms were getting so bad that there were times I was afraid to drive, to work, to do anything socially. Not anymore. Since taking this regimen ALL of my symptoms have reduce dramatically. I’ve had just one vertigo attack and that was only because I had run out of several of the supplements. Yes, once you start taking these you can’t stop or else the symptoms will come back.
    The link below is written by John. It explains Meniere’s, several of the common treatment options, then a list of all the vitamins and supplements with explanations of what they do for the body and why they’ll help with Meniere’s symptoms.

  4. Gr

    Please send me the exercises your ENT gave you back in 2004 for the meniere’s disease…. I have a dear dear friend who is 88 and needs some relief so very badly!!! Thanks soooooooooo much!!!!! Geneva

  5. Helen M

    I was diagnosed with Meniere’s when I was a girl in the 1950s. The doctor gave me Antivert and I took it whenever I had an attack. They became fewer and fewer, finally went away. I don’t know if that medication is still around, might be worth looking for.

  6. gr

    What was the sheet of exercises the ENT gave you for the meniere’s disease that you got in 2004 and haven’t had any trouble since…. please let me know the exercises or where I can get them…THANKS SOOOOOO MUCH!!!!

  7. PG

    I was diagnosed with Meniere’s in my mid 40s. It was horrible at first. But it went away for some years then came back with a vengeance. My ENT prescribed Lasix and Valium. Took the lasix every day and take the Valium only if I’m having vertigo. I take it at night and the next morning, I’m fine.
    I don’t do this every time, only when it’s really bad. I’m very cautious about some drugs. I get attacks intermittently. They seem to have tapered off for awhile. I’m 70 now and have no hearing in the one ear, but I’m doing fine. I don’t intend to quit coffee or anything else I like to eat. The attacks come, the attacks go, but I will eat what I want. (I am not overweight, my sister says I’m too thin.) I don’t take the Lasix anymore either. Don’t like to take medicines. Only on a thyroid medicine now.

  8. Brad

    I was diagnosed with Meniere’s about 10 years ago at 46. Totally disrupted my life. Took steroids & a diuretic for weeks. Slept on bathroom floor for days because of nausea. Once symptoms cleared up I reduced salt intake, eliminated alcohol and caffeine. Also exercised daily to keep stress down. Life is good again. I carry Bonine (Meclizine) 24/7 because I never know if I’ll get another attack.
    This over the counter med is a God send and really helps resolve the nausea & spinning sensations. The ringing in my ears will never go away but I can function again.

  9. Peggy

    I had Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo which was helped significantly by the Epley Maneuver. Some months later when the dizziness returned I found a helpful video on YouTube that demonstrated the maneuver.

  10. Laurie

    I was diagnosed with Meniere’s in my early 30’s, over 25 years ago. It took at least 6 months, I think, to get a diagnosis. Was already a person who watched my salt. Had the mastoid shunt put in, but that didn’t do any good. I also had the fullness in my ear and the ringing. I think I woke up dizzy everyday for at least a year, maybe longer. It was one of the worst things to happen to me. Not only was I dizzy, but threw up a lot. I was trying to take care of my two small children.
    Finally went back to the ear specialist, and asked him if there was anything else they could do. He said yes, but it was risky. My quality of life was so bad, I was willing to try anything. So I had neurosurgery done and they cut my balance nerve on that ear, so I wouldn’t throw up when I got dizzy. I call it my little miracle!!! I hardly ever got dizzy after that, and the surgery was just suppose to stop the throwing up!! I have lost the hearing in that ear, so just recently got a special hearing aid for people with Meniere’s. And on rare occasion I will have some fullness/ringing, but hardly EVER get dizzy.
    Oh, also caffeine can trigger the dizziness, in some people sometime. I had a little trouble with that years ago, but it doesn’t bother me now. I also take the Triamterenew/HCTZ and will for the rest of my life! Going thorough all of it REALLY made me appreciate life!!

  11. DJ

    I, too, was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease in my left ear nearly 10 years ago. After a year with a specialist (ENT) who prescribed Triamterene w/HCTZ and Meclizine, I continued to suffer unexpected dizzy spells. Did not want to continue this way. Very frustrating & scary!
    Finally, I consulted an allergist & he gave me some steroids and also recommended Zyrtec. Back then, it still required a prescription. Now, it’s over the counter! Within 2 weeks of taking it faithfully (1 every night before bedtime) I have not had another episode!! Unfortunately, Meniere’s eventually took a great deal of the hearing in my left ear & just this year I got a hearing aid. It helps in some instances, not all. Good Luck to all those still suffering!

  12. DMB

    When I stopped using aspartame, my dizzy spells stopped.

  13. Jeanette

    How could I get hold of pictures of those exercises?
    I have been diagnosed with the beginnings of Meniere’s disease, and have not yet had serious dizzy spells, just some lightheadedness, and a noisy left ear. I am already doing low salt and non-prescription diuretics.

  14. LCB

    I have Meniere’s. I have related it to my allergies and take things to keep the mucous in the head thin and moving out. Also, I had a surgical procedure called an endolymphatic mastoid shunt and it has worked pretty well, but I MUST keep the excess mucous under control. I’m not sure that the exercises for benign positional vertigo will help Meniere’s. The exercises are available on line at Mayo Bros Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

  15. Linda

    I experienced periods of dizziness/ vertigo… hard for me to tell the difference. I remembered a friend several years ago with similar symptoms. She saw a family doctor steeped in complementary alternatives. I went to google and learned to perform these head movements. After a few time, the dizziness was gone. Lovely. No drugs and no fee to pay.

  16. Don

    While I am not a medical doctor, the readers are confusing two diseases with somewhat similar symptoms: Meniere’s Disease and Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV. I occasionally suffer from BPPV abd the Epley maneuvers are helpful for that. I rather doubt that they are helpful for Meniere’s Disease.

  17. Greg K

    I suffered from Meniere’s for many years, with symptoms described above. Doctors didn’t help, meds didn’t help. I reduced my sodium consumption to less than half, and got e series of colonics. This was about 10 years ago,and I have not had a episode since.

  18. Helen M

    PS on the Epley’s Maneuver: Never, Never do this alone! What if you fell off the bed? If it makes it worse before making it better, as it did with me, you will probably need help getting up and to a chair. Just google Epley’s Maneuver for full information on this procedure.

  19. Helen M

    To correct imbalances in the ear.
    I laid on the bed, head hanging over, ugh. Joe and I spinned me about a turn, dizziness was worse. I sat quietly in a chair and in 20 to 30 minutes gone, never to return.
    Though it is strongly suggested you do this with a professional, I had already been to a doctor, taken an antihistamine, had slight improvement with worse turns. I had to use a cane, so I could stop and let the worse pass. Somehow I came upon information about the Epley’s Maneuver and thought, what the heck? It is important that your head lies downward though the turns. This allows the fluid and little particles in your ears to shift, eliminating the imbalances.
    Hope this helps.

  20. Jan S.

    I was hit with this attack and taken to the ER by my hubby & daughter. I couldn’t tell where the ground was, totally disoriented and very sick. I had an Rx’s but kept getting smaller attacks, like even turning over in bed, so dizzy. Then an ENT Dr. had a whole sheet of exercises to do. I did them all and had no trouble. That was in 2004. I do 6 of them sitting on my bed at night without fail, and haven’t had another episode.

  21. P Chandler

    I feel for you. I too have this condition. My spells come every 6 or 7 months, with episodes that last from 2-3 weeks. I gave up caffeine, chocolate, and try to do low sodium, which is very hard. I also take vitamin C, B vitamins, ginger, and grape seed extract – This condition can be very frustrating, but just try to keep a positive outlook.

  22. C. L

    I and my son have Meniere’s disease and we both take diamox which is a mild diuretic. He twice a day but I get by on one because it causes ringing in my ears. Low salt diet is essential.

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