I am sharing this story and information in case others out there with this might also find some relief...
Some of the readers of this blog that know me personally may know that I have been pretty sick for about 6-weeks now. It all started the day before Thanksgiving with what seemed like a regular old run-of-the-mill cold. But just as I was recovering from the cold I woke up one morning with extreme vertigo (i.e. the room was spinning violently out of control). The extreme vertigo/dizziness went away within seconds but the overall dizziness and imbalance got worse and worse. It wasn’t long before it was so bad that I couldn’t even move my head (much less stand up or walk anywhere) without getting so nauseated that I would physically get sick. Over the course of several weeks there were 3 separate trips to minor emergency and I was given everything from a steroid to help drain my ears to several different types of antibiotics. Finally after about 3 weeks my symptoms subsided enough that I could tolerate the long car ride to go see my regular doctor (medical trip #4).
My doctor gave my ears and sinus a clean bill of health, so no infection and relatively clear sinuses. But she did some tests on me and said that I had positional vertigo. She told me about several vertigo maneuvers I could do to help resolve the vertigo (like the Epley maneuver). So I went home a continued to take the meds I had been taking (more on that later) and started doing these maneuvers. At first when I did the Epley maneuver it would cause a little mini vertigo attack and then as I did it more and more it didn’t cause any dizziness at all). I was hoping that meant that the maneuvers worked. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Epley it is designed to move the fluid/crystals that are in your ear canal around and eventually out of the area that is sensitizing your inner ear to think there is movement (its basically a false indicator on a sensor in your head).
But after a week of doing these maneuvers on a regular basis I was still getting “sea sick” during the day. It wasn’t extreme dizziness or spinning, it was much more subtle than that but it lead to extreme nausea. When the nausea would come on all I could do was sit still and cool my head down and try not to vomit until it passed. This went on for several more weeks. Finally my Mom had heard from a friend of mine that had a co-worker that was having similar symptoms and his doctor recommended he go on a special diet. At this point I was willing to try absolutely anything. So I went on this diet and within a couple of days I noticed a huge improvement. It has now been 11 days since I went on this diet and I am almost completely back to normal. Now it’s possible that this diet had nothing to do with my recovery and that all I really needed was time to allow my body to recover. But there are two reasons why I don’t think this is the case. The first reason being that nothing I tried for many weeks had any significant impact on reducing my symptoms and helping me feel better until I got on this diet. Reason #2 is that yesterday I thought I was feeling well enough that I would risk having 1 small cup of coffee in the morning (yeah, no coffee is allowed on this diet). Not long after I wasn’t feeling so well and it pretty much wrecked my afternoon. But the next day (today) I was back into my slow daily progression of getting better and better.
My Pre-Diet Drugs
For completeness I will list out all of the things I was taking before I went on this diet to help.
- Meclazine (for dizziness and nausea I would take 25 mg every 6 hours)
- Ibuprofen ( I just took the normal dose hoping to reduce any inflammation that I may have)
- Mucinex (or Guaifenesin every 12 hours - extended release)
- Sudafed (again every 12 hours - extended release)
The Sudafed and Mucinex were pretty key to keeping my symptoms minimized as I noticed that when I had more congestion my dizziness and nausea would increase. So by keeping things running and draining I would not get as sick as I would otherwise. But this went on for weeks and the drainage and the symptoms didn’t get any better at all. I was still not able to drive or go to work or really function much at all.
The diet that was recommended from my friend wasn’t quite as restrictive (it only covered the first 5 items below). But when I did some digging online it seemed like the best approach was to eliminate everything that could complicate my issues any further. So the diet I went with was the following:
- No salt
- No sugar
- No processed foods of any kind
- No caffeine
- No alcohol
- No dairy
- No grains or breads
- Lots of fresh vegetables (but avoiding specific ones) and quite a bit of fruit
- Chicken and salmon (obviously without any salt)
There were things that I was encouraged to eat that helps with reducing inflammation. So I tried to eat quite a bit of the following:
- Raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
- Dark chocolate (with little to no sugar)
What this ended up being was a combination of an anti-inflammatory diet (AID) and an auto-immune deficiency diet (also AID). The reason for going on a diet like this is to eliminate any and all dietary sources for inflammation and mucus generation. Most likely what I had was something called labyrinthitis (there is a great article about it here), which is an inflammation of the inner ear. So with my inner ear already being inflamed I needed to reduce as much of the “normal” inflammation and mucus/fluid production as possible and there are quite a few foods in our modern processed diet that result in inflammation and mucus/fluid production. By naturally reducing this by going on this diet it allows the natural course of the virus and the healing process to happen more quickly (not to mention it also dramatically reduced my symptoms within days).
I also took two additional supplements during this 11-day (and still going) diet:
- MucoStop (a pill of natural enzymes that help your body break down and eliminate excess mucus)
- DMG Chewables (Dimethylglycine) which among other things it also helps you with balance by providing extra oxygen to the brain and reduces inflammation
Please don’t take any of the information I provided above as a substitute for seeing a doctor. I only wanted to put this information out there so that others suffering with symptoms like mine might also find some relief. This diet that I’m on is a pretty healthy diet so the worst thing that could happen is that the diet only makes you a little more healthy (and does nothing for your symptoms). Don’t take any of the drugs or supplements I listed above without consulting a doctor first. Most of these are over the counter meds but they could have interactions with other supplements or drugs which is why seeing a doctor before taking a bunch of medications is so important. And most importantly of all good luck. Recovery from this virus is a very slow process, but at least for me (whether it was just a matter of timing or it actually did help) going on this diet drastically reduced my symptoms and my symptoms kept getting better each day (except for the 1 day I slightly broke my diet).
I am weening myself off of the Meclazine and should be completely off if it in a few days. At some point soon I will slowly start reintroducing things back into my diet and hopefully that will be the last step in my recovery.
Please pass this information along to anyone you know who may be suffering with similar symptoms. I haven’t seen much written about using this diet to combat these symptoms but it sure seemed to work well for me!