About the Diet Tool

Chicago Dizziness and Hearing  Tool

Timothy C. Hain, MD. Page last modified: February 7, 2016

This tool is designed to assist persons who need determine how much sodium they are eating. Sodium is a chemical that can affect blood pressure and many other health variables.

This particular was primarily designed to help patients with the sodium dietary restrictions in Meniere's Disease, which is a population cared for by Chicago Dizziness and Hearing. There are also some patients who need to take in MORE salt -- such as persons with certain types of low blood pressure. This tool may also be helpful for them.


This program builds a list of foods matched up with the mg of sodium for each food, for the amount chosen by the user. It takes its data from a US Government food database (good to see our tax dollars at work !)

The easiest way to use the program is to type in a word or two from the food in the top, click on "Find", select the food you want from the "find" list, and then click on "SELECT". This brings you back to the Salt tool main page, with the proper food identifier loaded and ready to be added to the meal list. At this page, select the serving size, and # of servings, and then click add.

For example, type in "red bull". If you have the "Beverages" group selected on the left, you will get two "hits" for RED BULL energy drink. If you select one of these, it will take you back to the "Salt" menu, where you can add it to your meal(s). It turns out that Red Bull has 97 mg of Sodium in a can (8.4 oz).

On the other hand, try "Coke". Unlike Red Bull, Coke is not in the US government's nutrition database. Go figure. However "Cola" is. Select this, and then enter in the # of oz (probably 12). The generic "Cola" only has 14 mg of sodium.

Gatorade has 237 mg of sodium, and a cup of milk (a glass ?), 147 mg of sodium. So Red Bull and Coke have less sodium than Milk. Interesting eh ?

It is generally best to use several short search terms at the same time, and look for entries that have all of them. Single word queries are treated as "TERM*", or in other words, match any word that begins with TERM. Multiple word queries are treated by "AND" ing all of the terms together. A single long search term or several short search terms are the most efficient way of finding something.

When there are a very large number of matches to the term (s), then the program attempts to cut the # down by grouping them under the first word. Click on "EXPAND" to show the items under that word.

How it works inside.

A copy of the SR25 version National Nutrition Database is stored online, on a Chicago Dizziness and Hearing (CDH) server. A search program is implemented for this 17,000 food database, using a combination of key-word (Natural Language) search and food-group selection. The database cannot be changed by users, as it is secured.

When you select a food, a record is created in a "meal" table, again on the CDH server. The record is associated with your computer by checking for a "cookie". The cookie contains a user number (which does not contain any personally identifiable information). The cookie does NOT contain any protected health care information.

If you want to come back and look at your data, it will persist for a few months. Similarly, your cookie will expire after 2 months, unless you come back again, making your meal data inaccessible.


Chicago Dizziness and Hearing has provided this tool to help manage sodium, without any warranty or guarantee. While to the best of our knowledge, the data from the USDA database is correct, and the calculations within the program, we do not guarantee that this is the case. While we have the usual protections in place, we are also not entirely able to guarantee that the USDA database has not been compromised by hackers or the like.

We hope this helps !

Timothy C. Hain, M.D.