Reducing Ear Fullness and Tinnitus

Controlling the terrible symptoms of Migraine Associated Vertigo has come, for me, through following the Migraine Diet (mostly), avoiding or reducing triggers as much as I can, and following a 9-12 week course of Nortriptyline when needed. But following that regimen does not consistently help ear fullness in my “bad” ear. The fullness fluctuates and sometimes is just awful. It can cause pain and trigger vertigo. My right nasal passage feels clogged. I was taking Allegra-24 Hour (at night) antihistamine every 4 days or so and that would eliminate or just reduce pressure for a while. So - if a simple antihistamine (second generation that does not cross the blood/brain barrier) reduces ear pressure and tinnitus, then maybe not all of the problem is with the damage in my inner ear. Maybe there is some other aggravation. Maybe I needed to stop eating the foods that are high in histamine - the ones that histamine sensitive people eliminate from their diet. Guess what? So far it is really helping. And as I search the internet, I find others who this regimen has helped. I have cut out strawberries, tomato products (even homemade sauces), spinach, white potato, apricots, All dairy, fish and I have greatly reduced wheat products. Many of the other high histamine foods were already avoided because they are on the headache diet. When I do this, ear fullness and tinnitus are lessened. When I cheat (with ice cream or too much wheat or two days of fish, etc.) the ear fullness returns.
I looked up food families to make sure I was eliminating other necessary foods: chard is in the spinach family but kale is not and all peppers (including paprika, chili powder) are in the tomato family.
Now, of course, I have to figure out what to eat. I will have to rotate small amounts of histamine foods and see how I do. Maybe a small, fresh slice of tomato is okay but marinara is not. Maybe measuring two teaspoons of cream cheese in okay but not two scoops of ice cream. Maybe a little spinach in a soup is okay but a large spinach salad is not. As with the items on the Headache Diet - small amounts, rotated, may work. If you are interested, I have compared the migraine and histamine diets. It is worth a try if you are suffering. You will still have to respect all your other triggers. Vertigo Tales and Tastes: S G Blog Post: COMPARE THE DIETS

Good Lord. That sounds impossible.

I have the ocean in both ears and a cricket in the other. They stopped for unknown reason last night for about 10 mins and I was reminded of normalcy. Depressing af.

Yes it does seem impossible but so far I feel better. I do not think my hearing is improved, but ear fullness and tinnitus are lessened. I am not allergic to these foods but I have some level of histamine intolerance. Maybe they cause swelling and put pressure on nerves. I really do not know. It is somehow related to my ear pressure. This is the longest I have gone without having to take the Allegra. We’ll see!?!

I was just reading your post and saw this (above)… this is exactly what I had thought might be happening when medications cause my ears to feel blocked/pressure/pain and a numbness as well.

How did you find out you had a histamine intolerance?

Great to hear that it helped you! I’ve always wondered about the connection with food allergies and ear fluid. I had a food allergy test done and I have moderate allergies to wheat, corn, soy, seasame, and peanuts. I’m also severely allergic to shellfish. I tried cutting those foods out of my diet but it was nearly impossible since wheat, soy, and corn are in pretty much everything.

By trial and error. Many, many, many years ago I had a few episodes of vertigo and tinnitus and so I went to my ENT. This was around 1990 and MAV was not out yet. She gave me a RAST test for food allergies and it showed a high reaction to Wheat, egg whites, soy, legumes, white potato and oranges. She also gave me a chart with the food families so I could see what other foods were related. I followed this rotation/elimination diet and my symptoms disappeared for almost 18 years, even after I occasionally had all of these foods and drank coffee and alcohol… So when my major episode appeared after menopause hit, I did what my oto-neurologist said to do (medication, trigger avoidance and migraine diet, but I also had this histamine question in the back of my mind. I could not figure out why I was having big relapses every 10-14 months. I always have a hard time in the summer and hot flashes return. My husband grows tomatoes (in the NIghtshade family with potatoes and bell peppers) and we eat lots of strawberries and blueberries. These, too, are histamine foods. So I eliminate them now and my sinus’ feel less clogged and I have less pressure on the facial nerves. I also have to be careful with fish. My full story is at my blog, if you have time. I always stay away from alcohol, coffee, MSG, chemically processed decaf and rotate small amounts of the other foods on the diet. This works for me. I must drink 70 ounces of liquid a day… Occasionally I have had to go on Nortriptyline for 3 months. It has taken me several years to find the right doctor and figure all of this out. It is a learning and discovery process for each of us. This next summer will be the first to try NO berries, no potatoes, no chemically treated decaf and 70 ounces of water everyday and see if I can avoid my usual decline during the hot months. We’ll see???

Wow, I bet some people never find that much out about themselves and their symptoms. I would like to read your blog, where do I find it?

Hope it offers some help. I was finally diagnosed with “Silent Migraine” ( MAV) in 2010, by an oto-neurologist and that is when I began the journey of finding out about my triggers. I had many doctors give me wrong information before then.

I have just been reading your blog. It is interesting, thanks. It is helpful to read about other peoples experiences. I see ear pain and ear fullness being linked to migraine in it. Do your ear symptoms change at all when you take Nortriptyline?

It helps somewhat but my doctor says I have permanent damage in my ear from the migraine/neurological issues. My doctor states that this is a neurological problem and, hence, all my neurological symptoms. From his handout, "Most think of it as a headache problem but it has become apparent in recent years that many patients suffer from symptoms of migraine who do not have a headache as a dominant symptom. These patients have a primary complaint of dizziness, ear pain, ear or head fullness, “sinus” pressure and even fluctuating hearing loss".** That’s me. The new thinking is , according to my doctor, “the tiny blood vessels in the inner ear are innervated by branches of the same nerve that innervates the intracranial blood vessels severely affected in migraine attacks. Individuals with Menieres who have been treated effectively for Migraine see improvement in their Menieres symptoms. This has been my experience.” Meniere’s Disease is very rare and yet so many people suffer from vertigo. He REQUIRED me to read “Heal Your Headaches: The 1-2-3 Program” by David Buchholz, M.D. What now helps my ear fullness, ear pain and tinnitus the most is Allegra and/or Nasonex. This is how I know it is not Menieres. They would not work for Menieres because they do not get to the inner ear. They do, however, reduce swelling around the nerves. By the way, I have permanent hearing loss in my bad ear. Nothing helps that. I sure wish I could have been on this program since 2008 when I first had an attack. I searched for good help for 4 years. In these last 4 years my hearing has remained about the same. My tinnitus really fluctuates from bad to almost gone. Never gone. So far, the diet, trigger avoidance and Allegra all help to keep the vertigo at bay. My next challenge is to try and get through the hot summer months without an attack, as heat is a real problem for me. Just so you know, it takes about 3 years for people to wrap their head around this whole thing. They do not want to believe it or they cannot understand all of it at once. I’ve been there.

hi spinninggirl1 ive just read your blog and it is very interesting, could I ask how long does your attacks last?

Thanks, all this is really interesting. Especially what you said about swelling round nerves. Also what you have said about Histamine. I have been on Betahistine since Autumn last year until about a week ago, yet in the summer I need Antihistamines for hay fever. Do you think that could have caused a problem or is that different from what you are talking about?

Hey, just dropping in on the Betahistine part. I suffer from hay fever and stuff too. Three weeks ago in my vertigo crisis my doctor gave me betahistine. Although it did wonders to my rocking sensation…it gave me a really hard time to breathe. Almost felt like my body forgot to breath and every breath I noticed. Stopping the Betahistine worked for me. Don’t know if this is helpful for you though

Just curious about where you live. Betahistine is not legal in the United States so I have not tried it. I seem to have central and peripheral problems. When my facial nerves get overstimulated I will get severe vertigo and all the other horrible symptoms that go along with vertigo. I also get tinnitus and ear fullness. I can feel when this is happening and I also get vibration in my upper lip/teeth and sometimes in my hands.When my facial nerves are not overstimulated, I can still get ear fullness and tinnitus. For all of this I need to eliminate coffee, alcohol, MSG and only eat very small, rotated portions of the other foods on the MIgraine diet. I have learned that I have other uncontrollable triggers like arrival of storms, over heating my body, too much exercise and too much head motion up and down or side to side. But I have also learned that, for me, I react to high histamine foods. They create sinus pressure, ear fullness and more tinnitus. (My doctor says this all relates to the neurological issues of the migraine continuum. ) I have stopped eating strawberries often (one is okay), tomatoes and especially canned tomatoes and tomato paste (one slice of fresh tomato is okay), white potatoes (an occasional 1/2 baked is okay), really limit dairy, and I try to reduce wheat. I take an Allegra about every four days and that helps relieve the pressure also. I am guilty of one great sin: I cannot stay away from chocolate so I have a small square or cookie, etc., everyday. I can’t be perfect. I do eat 1 ounce of cheese everyday because women need calcium foods for their bones. By the way, I take B2 and Magnesium at doctor’s suggestion. I also take calcium, D3, a hair and skin multivitamin and zinc. And I must drink about 70 ounces of water and herb tea everyday to not get dehydrated. It has taken me four years, with a good oto-neurologist, to learn and get to this point of knowledge and control. This next summer is my next challenge. I really want to get through the hot months without a major setback. Hope this helps. (

I get vertigo, nausea, vomiting, hot flushes and bowel issues but I do not get the headache. When all this happens I have to go to the emergency room and they stop it with an IV of Valium and fluids. I cannot swallow any pills at this point and It would not end on its own. This has happened about 4 times in the last 6 years. So my job is to do everything I can think of to not have a big problem in the first place. If you have read my blog, then you know that I do many things: 70 ounces of water a day, no caffeine, MSG, alcohol, reduced amounts of other foods on the MIgraine diet, low histamine diet (tomatoes, potatoes, dairy, etc), limit head motion as much as possible, reduce fatigue, et al. On rare occasion I take an Advil, reduce activities and go strictly on the diet. That will stop a minor episode. Hope this helps. My resource page may help you find out more information. Good luck. (

That is interesting (and scary for you I am sure). I didn’t have any trouble breathing on Betahistine, in fact it is the ONLY preventative medication I have taken for dizziness that hasn’t given me any horrible side effects.

But I am not sure how effective it was either. Perhaps I would have been a lot worse without it? It is hard to know. I didn’t have any long periods of dizziness while on it, so maybe it was doing something.

The ENT consultant said he doubted it was doing much and it might be sensible to stop it, but then he also called my ear issues a diagnostic red herring!!

I have stopped it because I wanted to take antihistamines when starting the Amitriptyline in the hope of improving my chances of not having a reaction to it. Also I couldn’t see how I could take it alongside antihistamines in the hayfever season anyway, but right now I am tempted to just go back on it for now instead of Amitriptyline and see what happens.

I live in the UK. Betahistine is the standard treatment for Menieres here. I guess I can’t have a problem with Histamine or I would have reacted to it, like Agnes did. It was worth looking at though.

I didn’t realise until I just did a search that Allegra is fexofenadine which is what I am already taking, I was thinking of asking for it lol.

I wish you all the best for your challenge of getting through the summer months.

As a direct result of sudden ear fullness after many many months without I read it could be caused by excess dairy so cut out dairy and particularly cheese completely. Ended up eating more fish. Turns out canned fish most particularly in tomato sauce is off the end of the scale for high histamine so round we go again in both senses of the word. Then ended up here on this thread.