Have you ever noticed how vertigo can sometimes occur at the same time of the day, or whenever you eat a certain food? That’s because various vertigo triggers exist, and foods are only one category. These foods cause ototoxicity, which means that they damage the ears. As well as vertigo, ototoxicity is also a major reason behind tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss. Below are 5 vertigo triggers which anyone with a vestibular disorder should be aware of:

1. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

MSG is usually found in processed and Chinese foods. It can affect those who suffer from vestibular migraine and also contains sodium. Once an individual has consumed products with MSG, vertigo can arise, which can be accompanied with nausea and vomiting. Below are some examples of foods with MSG:

  • Soy sauce
  • McDonald’s Fries
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Doritos
  • Burger King chicken fries
  • KFC rice
  • KFC seasoned rice
  • Potato wedges
  • Flavoured ramen noodles

You can find a more in depth list at MSGTruth.org

2. Salt

Another item added to the list of vertigo triggers is salt. Not only can salt cause vertigo, but it can also bring about tinnitus, due to the fact that it affects the fluid within the inner ear (endolymph). This is why it’s essential to reduce sodium intake and monitor the food that you consume. If foods that contain salt have too much sodium, this can result in high blood pressure, causing your blood vessels to constrict.

If the blood vessels become constricted, it can cause insufficient blood flow to the brain and inner ear, which is another reason behind vertigo. Options such as magnesium help to dilate blood vessels, and allow better blood flow to these areas.

3. Patterns

Sometimes just by looking at a pattern on a wall can summon vertigo. Patterns with black and white lines, or swirling circles can make you feel nauseous. This is a common reason linked to visual vertigo and can affect many vertigo sufferers.

4. Alcohol

Drinking alcohol alone will make one’s senses less sharp, which can result in clumsiness and reduced sensory awareness. It can have a relaxing affect on the nervous system, as it releases an inhibitory neurotransmitter within the brain, known as GABA. GABA is well known for treating anxiety and depression.

In relation to the inner ear, alcohol has a direct influence on the vestibular system, as it affects the fluid within the inner ear. This results with our orientation being affected in relation to our surroundings, resulting with individuals feeling dizzy, “spaced out” and as if the world around them is spinning.

5. Light

Those who are sensitive to light can become dizzy at times. For someone who suffers from a vestibular disorder such as Meniere’s disease, dizziness could occur because of looking at too many flickering lights. From this, the eyes (visual system) can become overworked, causing sensory overload.

When too much sensory information is being received by our 3 major sensory systems (the visual system, vestibular system and proprioceptive system), the brain can become overloaded. This can result in nerve pain, vertigo, tinnitus, migraines and poor balance.

How To Overcome These Vertigo Triggers?

Here are a few things that you can do to overcome these vertigo triggers:

  • Write a daily journal and list the foods/vertigo triggers that cause you to feel dizzy. Include a couple of sentences highlighting how you reacted to a particular food you ate.
  • Eliminate foods/vertigo triggers from your lifestyle, to the best of your ability. As your health improves, you can slowly reintroduce these various foods over time, and test out if you react positively to them.
  • Score how each food/vertigo trigger made you feel out of 10, 10 being the worst form of vertigo and 1 being the least. By keeping a record like this, you can prioritise your time on eliminating the vertigo triggers which are most detrimental to your health.