People who have osteoporosis are more likely to also have vertigo, according to a study published in the March 24, 2009, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study involved 209 people with benign positional vertigo with no known cause such as head trauma or ear surgery. Vertigo is an inner ear disorder that is a common cause of dizziness. The disorder is believed to be caused by loose calcium carbonate crystals that move in the sensing tubes of the inner ear.
The people with vertigo were compared to 202 people with no history of dizziness. People with osteoporosis, or low bone density, were three times more likely to have vertigo, and people with osteopenia, which is the stage before osteoporosis, were twice as likely to have vertigo as people who had normal bone density.
In women, 25 percent of those with vertigo had osteoporosis, compared to nine percent of those who did not have vertigo, and 47 percent of those with vertigo had osteopenia, compared to 33 percent of those without vertigo. For men, 12 percent of those with vertigo had osteoporosis, compared to six percent of those without vertigo, and 40 percent of those with vertigo had osteopenia, compared to 27 percent of those without vertigo.
"These findings suggest a problem with calcium metabolism in people with vertigo," said study author Ji Soo Kim, MD, PhD, of Seoul National University College of Medicine in Korea, according to the March 23, 2009 news release, Vertigo linked to osteoporosis. "Women most often have their first case of vertigo in their 50s, when they are also having a drop in bone mass due to loss of estrogen. Estrogen is one of the main hormones that influence calcium and bone metabolism."
Kim said researchers haven't determined the role of estrogen in vertigo
Kim noted that the link between osteoporosis and vertigo was also found in men, so other factors must also play a role. A recent guideline by the American Academy of Neurology found that vertigo can be treated easily and quickly through simple head and body movements. For more information, Check out the AAN website. The study was supported by the Brain Korea 21 Project.
Why are so many musicians, artists, and poets eventually diagnosed with vertigo or Meniere's disease?
According to the article, "Famous People with Menieres Disease," published in Disabled World magazine, April 15, 2008, Jessica Jennifer Williams (born March 17, 1948) is a well-known and highly respected American pianist and composer who has deep roots in the Jazz Tradition. She was presented the Keys to the City of Sacramento, receiving four grants from the Sacramento Arts Commission, and the Keys to the City of San Mateo.
Jessica was diagnosed with Bilateral Meniere's disease in 2007, a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance. If you are affected in only one ear, that is said to be "unilateral" (one-sided). If you are affected in both ears, that is said to be "bilateral" (two-sided).
She was chosen Artist of the Year in Santa Cruz County, for her free musical service to the elderly, and for donating support to the Women's Shelter of Watsonville. She has released over 65 albums and written over 300 compositions. She has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; a Rockefeller Grant for composing; the Alice B. Toklas Grant for Women Composers, and the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.
Other famous people with Meniere's disease included the painter, Vincent Van Gogh, and Alan Shephard, the astronaut and first American in space. The disease caused him disorientation, dizziness, and nausea. In 1963 Shepard was designated Chief of the Astronaut office which involved monitoring the coordination, schedule, and control of all activities involving the NASA astronauts.
Shepard was eventually restored to full flight status by 1969 after going through corrective surgery. At the age of 47 years old, he was the oldest astronaut in the program when he took part in his second space flight as commander of the Apollo 14.
David Alstead is a skilled pianist, and is continuing his career despite the fact that he suffers from Meniere's Disease after losing all hearing capabilities in his left ear, due to a surgery he had at the age of 19. And back in history, if readers ever wondered why Emily Dickinson almost never left her home, the magazine article, "Famous People with Meniere's Disease," lists her. Is there anything you can do to help the vertigo of Meniere's disease or some of its vertigo symptoms, even without a diagnoses of the disease?
Vertigo and Food Sensitivities
Symptoms of Meniere's disease often are controlled successfully (but not cured) by reducing the body's retention of fluids through dietary changes (such as a low-salt or salt-free diet and no caffeine or alcohol) or medication. Reducing your salt intake has been found to be helpful in stopping vertigo, Meniere’s disease, and migraines, along with a regimen of vitamins, minerals, and fish oils.
After your doctor has determined that your vertigo, Meniere’s disease symptoms, and/or your migraines are not caused by tumors or aneurysms or any other condition that needs surgical repair, you can choose between standard treatments or supplements of vitamins and minerals. A series of tests will tell you whether you have Meniere's Disease, or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).
Meniere's Disease and BPPV are the two most common causes of vertigo. While one can be mistaken for the other, they are different diseases with different symptoms and different treatments. Sometimes migraines can be one cause of vertigo. View the PDF file article, "Treating Vertigo in the Office."
To learn more, read the article, "Vertigo, It's Causes and Treatment," by Huai Y. Cheng, M.D. Also see: Drachman DA. A 69-year-old man with chronic dizziness. JAMA. 1998; 280(24): 2111-2118. According to articles from as far back as 1937, doctors were studying the effects of vitamins and minerals on vertigo, Meniere’s disease, and migraines. You can check out the abstract of that 1937 study. Check out the abstracts of The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, 52 , pp 783-799. Also see, in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology 1975 Jul-Aug;84(4 Pt 1):513-7. “Conservative management of Méniére's disease: Furstenberg regimen revisited.” Albert C. Furstenberg developed and promoted the Furstenberg regimen of a low-sodium diet and diuretics.
The Annals of Otology study reviews twenty years' experience at the University of Michigan with 500 consecutive patients suffering from symptoms of Méniére's disease. The Furstenberg regimen of a low-sodium diet has been satisfactory in relieving the most disturbing symptoms of Méniére's disease in the vast majority of cases and often in patients that have failed other treatment programs.
Low-sodium diet suggested in some studies
The success of the Furstenberg conservative management program has been largely dependent upon the strict adherence by the patient to that specific professionally prescribed, low-sodium diet. Doctors usually prescribe along with the low-sodium regimen, a high complex carbohydrate diet, omega 3 fatty acids from fish oils and flaxseed oils, and doses of niacin, multiple minerals, including magnesium, along with other B-complex vitamins, and vitamins C, A, and E.
Medical professionals noticed that migraines which may be caused by spasms of blood vessels in your head might also be connected to Meniere’s syndrome symptoms and vertigo. Migraines, vertigo, and Meniere's symptoms--all three--might be brought on by spasms of blood vessels located in your inner ear.
Controlling the blood vessel spasms
Treatment that might control those blood vessel spasms seems to be similar for vertigo, migraines, and Meniere’s disease symptoms. Research and diet-based remedies with additional nutritional supplements continue to be studied.
Let’s say you have a migraine. The same factors also might be responsible for your repetitive bouts of vertigo. As for Meniere’s disease, the symptoms include vertigo, hearing loss that comes and goes, and tinnitus, which is ringing or buzzing in the ears. The person may complain of fullness in the affected ear. Then headaches and/or nausea develop. What’s happening, according to doctors, is that the affected ear’s inner canal is filling with a fluid called endolymph.
This fluid causes an imbalance. The inner ear is not able to function. You could have problems keeping your balance in walking. At this point you have a choice between standard treatment and nutritional treatment.
Meniere's -- how an attack starts
In Meniere’s, the attack begins with loud ringing or roaring and buzzing in the affected ear. Then comes the sensation of pressure inside the ear, as if the ear is stuffed up or clogged. Within a few hours, usually at night or when the person lies down, there’s a sudden onset of severe vertigo, but in Meniere’s the vertigo is accompanied by a loss of hearing in the affected ear. The dizziness may last for hours. And there may be nausea and vomiting.
Sometimes the symptoms occur frequently and last for weeks or months. Then the symptoms disappear for months or years at a time. Other times the attacks are intermittent, coming at going at unexpected times. Other times, if the person with these symptoms can sleep, the symptoms might disappear when the individual awakes.
When standard treatment fails, patients turn to natural solutions. Those natural solutions include seeing a nutrition-oriented physician specializing in ear problems. The physician should have experience treating Meniere’s successfully with vitamin B3 (niacin) and other B complex vitamins as well as vitamin C, fish oils high in Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, and vitamins A and E.
Supplements and regimens you can read about or find online
One daily regimen calls for supplements that include magnesium, ground flax seeds, fish oils, multiminerals, niacin three times daily, vitamin B complex, and vitamins A, E and C. The vitamin dosages are not very high. But the vitamin B complex needs to be taken together. The vitamins are taken along with a high complex carbohydrate diet. What happens is that vitamin B3 (niacin) puts a damper on the spasms. Magnesium also helps control the blood vessel spasms.
You can’t go overboard and take higher vitamin dosages assuming that they will work correctly. So ask your doctor how much you should take. You only need about 200 mg of magnesium three times a day. And the 50 mg vitamin B complex works well. You don’t need any high dosages of vitamins that could impair your nervous system. The usual recommendation of niacin is 200 mg, three times a day, but again, ask your doctor. Too much niacin damages your liver. You need to tailor the amounts to your individual body.
For Meniere’s disease, causes attributed to the symptoms of the disease include not only blood vessel spasms but also calcification, aspartame (known cause), MSG, HVP, Cysteine (known cause), HSV-1 virus (this is the facial herpes virus that causes cold sores and non-genital herpes. The virus may or may not be a cause. Food allergies or lack of lipase enzyme also may be probable causes.
Distinguishing between the symptoms and the disease
You have to distinguish between only the symptoms of Meniere’s disease and having been diagnosed with the actual disease. If you have been diagnosed with the actual disease, then you need to find out whether it is due to nerve degeneration or other causes. See the Proposed Natural Treatment for Meniere’s Disease site for further details about causes and natural remedy information.
There are so many possible causes of Meniere's, vertigo, and migraines that have been studied to see whether there is a connection between all three, that you and your doctor need to work together to find out which cause applies to your own situation. Interestingly, similar treatments for migraine, vertigo, and Meniere’s symptoms have been similar diet changes, minerals, and vitamins.
Could migraine, vertigo, Meniere’s and other similar inner-ear problems all be connected to the same causes? And if so, could the causes of the three illnesses be blood vessel spasms, allergies, calcification, herpes virus outbreaks, fluid leaking into your inner ear, a deficiency of the B vitamins, fish oils, complex carbohydrates? Or all of the above?
Key words to search
Diet changes have been shown to work in the various medical studies you’ll find in the scientific journals under the key words, "research on natural treatment for migraines, Meniere's, and vertigo." The latest scientific news to date is that possibly all three are caused by blood vessel spasms. But the research continues.
You’ll have to decide whether to try the nutrition, mineral, vitamin, and fish/flax oil approach or go with standard drugs, which include the anti-vertigo medications, sedatives, anti-nausea drugs, specific blood-pressure medications, and surgery for severe cases. If you decide to try the nutritional approach first, at least you have the backing of the studies in medical journals that have been shown to prevent and reduce those attacks.
Or could a combination of all the possible causes named for migraines, Meniere’s symptoms, as well as vertigo attacks lead researchers back to similar roots, viruses, or genetic issues that created malformed blood vessels creating the spasms? Continuing scientific and medical studies will connect the clues and help you to tailor your treatment to your own body’s needs.