Sue's Blog

Meniere’s and food intolerance


A woman wrote:

"I was told I might have Meniere's. My hearing is affected and it's awful ... If you have any information, success stories, etc. about this, please tell me where to look"

I sent her the information below.  Two weeks later, she wrote back:

“re Meniere's, the tinnitus has gotten much quieter and my ear hasn't felt stuffed …”

I have a particular interest in this topic because my father lost the hearing in one ear at age 39 due to Meniere's.  My memory of him is that he used to take heaps of Disprin for headaches that I now realise were almost certainly food related - like mine. Plus he suffered from constant dermatitis - but of course, we didn't know about food intolerance then.  Since then I have learned that Meniere's sufferers often come from a food intolerant family. 

Meniere's can involve:

-  repeated attacks of vertigo (dizziness, spinning head)
 - tinnitus (ringing or other noises in the ears)
-  hyperacusis (sensitivity to noise)
-  fluctuating but progressive hearing loss

The ototoxicity of salicylates has only recently been recognised

Otoxicity is drug-induced damage to the inner ear, leading to hearing loss and/or balance problems.

For a long time, the effects of salicylates on hearing loss were considered to be fully reversible, but it is now known that salicylates - e.g. aspirin and anti-inflammatories such as nurofen/ibuprofen - can trigger tinnitus and irreversible hearing loss (Sheppard et al, 2014).

Dietary salicylates - and other food chemicals - can be involved too

Some people with suspected Meniere's tell us that their doctors know nothing about dietary salicylates:

"sometimes the tinnitus is so loud and of course the doctor sort of laughed when I said I thought it was from food" - Ellie 

Others say their doctors recommended diet:

" ... I tried diet because of hyperacusis and tinnitus… I mentioned to my GP that strangely my ears hurt and rang more when I ate fruit by itself. He suggested that the salicylates in food may be causing my continuing reactions. I tried the diet and it has helped my ears enormously " - from our hyperacusis factsheet

One doctor who contacted us was pleased to see dietary salicylates recognised as a contributor to Meniere's symptoms.

However, he warned that the full salicylate challenge should not be attempted due to the risk of hearing damage. This is the reason for the following warning on our salicylates factsheet: 


"With Meniere's disease, too many salicylates can lead to irreversible hearing loss, so physicians recommend that challenges not be attempted. Instead the aim is to reduce salicylate exposure from all sources (drugs, skin creams, food) until symptoms improve, while at the same time eating as many salicylate containing foods as can be managed so that the diet is not unnecessarily restricted. This is not intended as medical advice – please consult your dietitian or physician."

Success stories

Dietitians, failsafers and a failsafe audiologist tell us that reducing dietary salicylates - and other food intolerance triggers - can reduce the symptoms of:



“just being low chemical I find I don’t hear the ringing anymore. If I overload on higher (mod-high salicylates) I get ear ringing when I lay my head down to go to sleep" – Serena from story [1477]

"... sals = tinnitus for me. I have been able to eat the odd moderate salicylate containing food without nausea ... " - Sally from story [1477]

"Salicylates can exacerbate this condition we have found at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit” – RPA Dietitian from story [1477]

"I'm an audiologist. There are a number of causes for tinnitus, it is a symptom not a disease. Even at uni we learn about aspirin potentially being a cause. Anything that puts the body under stress can cause or make it worse. Illness, food intolerance, stress. In my own experience yes food intolerance was a major cause. I remember failing amines challenge ohhh the noise. (Not the only trigger in my case but was the worst)” – Jackie from story [1477]



"My mother and I have known for years that we are allergic to aspirin. We both react with ringing in the ears, nausea, vertigo, lethargy, and I even lost consciousness once … on a low salicylate diet my mother and I have both been improving so drastically that everyone is asking us what is going on”  - from story [559]



 "I have always been very sensitive to sound ... I have noticed an improvement on failsafe and agree that it is probably related to sals. I also find that I am intolerant of noise when reacting to amines ..." - from our hyperacusis factsheet 

More info

Vertigo and salicylates blog

Hyperacusis symptom discussion factsheet

Tinnitus story collection

Salicylate factsheet  

Sheppard A et al, Review of salicylate-induced hearing loss, neurotoxicity, tinnitus and neuropathophysiology, Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital, 2014;34(2):79-93.