People are born with Arnold-Chiari malformation. At birth, it is actually very difficult for a doctor to understand the extent of the problems that the child will face. Most problems reveal themselves as the child grows and develops. Depending on the degree of the malformation, some can have symptoms, while others will not. However, majority of the patients exhibit some kind of neurological problems due to Arnold-Chiari Syndrome. Despite the exceptions, all of the patients will have to incorporate substantial lifestyle and dietary changes.
Some of the lifestyle changes include the following:
Activities that Cause Neck Stress: Avoid any activity that causes stress to the neck. Hence, people (and kids) with Arnold-Chiari Syndrome should avoid activities, such as diving, basketball, roller coaster rides, backpacking and football. They also should avoid reading for extended periods of time with their heads bent or falling off to sleep on chairs. If you want to lift weights at the gym, do not exceed 15 lbs.
Sleep: Get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Use soft small pillows that do exert pressure on your nape and head. Also, place large pillows on the affected side to prevent rolling over to that side while asleep. If possible, raise the head side of your bed by placing bricks or blocks under the legs of the bed to ease pressure on the head and neck.
Shoes: Wear cushioned shoes that reduce the pounding effect on the neck and cerebellum while walking. You can look at branded sneakers and sports shoes that come with this feature.
Reading: Whether you are reading a book, magazine or an email, ensure you always look straight ahead instead of bending your head. Use book holders or hold the book/magazine high by resting your elbows on an armrest of the chair.
Driving: People with Arnold-Chiari Syndrome can drive short distances if they want to stay mobile. However, they should use wide-vision mirrors, drive at slow speeds, and use an orthopaedic collar to avoid neck stress will driving or braking. In addition, they should place the car seat upright, so that their backs are straight.
Using the Toilet: Avoid straining while going to the bathroom, as this will put undue stress on the neck region and cause dizziness and pain. Instead, change dietary habits to have effortless bowel movements. If you are constipated, try drinking herbal tea containing senna to ease the constipation.
Jewellery: Avoid jewellery, such as necklaces, bracelets and rings. Jewellery may feel uncomfortable, so it is best to have a casual lifestyle.
If you have been diagnosed with Arnold-Chiari malformation, you will have to be careful about your diet. Here are some dietary changes that you will have to incorporate into your life.
Fibre: Consume fibre-rich food to help keep your digestive system in good working order. This will prevent constipation, bloating and straining during a bowel movement.
Caffeine and Alcohol: If you suffer from tinnitus due to your condition, avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can exacerbate your symptoms. Other food items to avoid include salt and aspirin.
High Calcium Diet: If you have had a surgery to treat your condition, consume a diet rich in calcium. You also can take calcium supplements after consulting your doctor.
Gluten-Free Diet: People with Arnold-Chiari malformation are prone to irritable bowel syndrome. Hence, they should avoid gluten to prevent IBS symptoms and malabsorption of nutrients.
GERD: One of the problems with Arnold-Chiari Syndrome is the onset of the gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This will not only cause malabsorption of nutrients, but is uncomfortable and can lead to throat cancer. Hence, it is best to avoid food that triggers GERD. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water throughout the day.