Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Back in midsummer, I began having problems with extreme dizziness, especially if I bent over to get a pan from a lower cabinet, or in the garden while picking tomatoes or pulling weeds.  At times, all I had to do was tip my head forward, backward, or to the side.  No other symptoms, just dizziness.  
Back when I was a teenager, it was a common thing for me to get dizzy when I suddenly stood up after sitting for awhile, especially if I had been reading a book.  But that was due to low blood pressure, I found out many years later, which seems to run in my family.  
What I experienced last summer was much more extreme and happened often.  Sometimes I would wake up in the night, roll my head to one side, and feel like I was on a carnival ride (which was actually sort of fun).  I'm not one to run to the doctor unless I feel it's absolutely necessary, so I consulted Dr. Google and landed on a website I trust (there are lots of quack sites out there):  Mayoclinic.com.  

Causes of vertigo may include:
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV causes intense, brief episodes of vertigo immediately following a change in the position of your head, often when you turn over in bed or sit up in the morning. BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo.
  • Inflammation in the inner ear. Signs and symptoms of inflammation of your inner ear (acute vestibular neuritis) include the sudden onset of intense, constant vertigo that may persist for several days, along with nausea, vomiting and trouble with balance. These symptoms may be so severe that you have to stay in bed. When associated with sudden hearing loss, this condition is called labyrinthitis. Fortunately, vestibular neuritis generally subsides and clears up on its own. But, early medical treatment and vestibular rehabilitation therapy can be helpful in speeding recovery.
  • Meniere's disease. This disease involves the excessive buildup of fluid in your inner ear. It's characterized by sudden episodes of vertigo lasting as long as several hours, accompanied by fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ear and a feeling of fullness in the affected ear.
  • Vestibular migraine. Migraine is more than a headache disorder. Just as some people experience a visual "aura" with their migraines, others can get vertigo episodes and have other types of dizziness due to migraine even when they're not having a severe headache. Such vertigo episodes can last hours to days and may be associated with headache as well as light and noise sensitivity.
  • Acoustic neuroma. An acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) is a noncancerous (benign) growth on the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to your brain. Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma generally include progressive hearing loss and tinnitus on one side accompanied by dizziness or imbalance.
  • Other causes. Rarely, vertigo can be a symptom of a more serious neurological problem such as a stroke, brain hemorrhage or multiple sclerosis. In such cases, other neurological symptoms are usually present, such as double vision, slurred speech, facial weakness or numbness, limb coordination, or severe balance problems.
The first one on the list sounded like my problem:  Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  Digging a little further, I learned that the problem usually goes away on its own eventually.  
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo — the sudden sensation that you're spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is characterized by brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. Symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo are triggered by specific changes in the position of your head, such as tipping your head up or down, and by lying down, turning over or sitting up in bed. You may also feel out of balance when standing or walking.
Although benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be a bothersome problem, it's rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls. You can receive effective treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo during a doctor's office visit.
Of course I did learn to be careful when bending over, holding onto something as I did so.  If I needed a pan that was in the bottom cabinets, I would pull a kitchen chair across the kitchen and sit on it, rather than bending over.  The only thing that worried me was that I had committed to babysitting an infant, and I was concerned that I might have an episode while picking her up or laying her down.  
As strange as it might seem, I only had one dizzy spell after I started babysitting Cora and then it was gone.  Done.  Over with.  Poof.  

About a month ago, Cliff had the same thing happen to him.  It seemed like his lasted even longer than mine, and I was about to make a doctor appointment for him.  On the day I mentioned seeing a doctor to him, he had his last dizzy spell.  It was gone as quickly as it had begun.  No, he wasn't faking, because for two or three days, every time he got up from a sitting position he would exclaim how thankful he was that his dizziness was gone.      

The thing I find most peculiar is that both of us had this problem, one at a time, so close together.  I guess we've been married so long that we even have to share our vertigo.    


Jon said...

As you learned from your research, dizziness can be caused by many things. It sounds to me like it could have been an inner ear infection.

I had an inner ear infection years ago when I lived in Springfield. The dizziness was so extremely violent that I couldn't walk or move my head. In time, I couldn't even get out of bed. If I attempted to get up, I'd fall right on the floor. Needless to say, it was extremely frightening - especially since I was basically healthy and still young.

To make a long story short, it finally cleared up on its own (as many inner ear infections do). But it took weeks, and sometimes it would come back slightly.
Anyway, it was a horrifying experience.

Michaele said...

My dad had vertigo real bad before he passed away. He said there is no worse feeling than that.

Jackie said...

Donna, I've been suffering with positional vertigo, or the first one on the list, since I was 15 years old. I cannot tip my head back without the world tilting and swaying. It's horrible. Going to the dentist when you can't lean back in the chair? now that's fun. An air show? Forget about it! Star gazing? Not gonna happen! I've learned to live with it, but I sure wish it would go away.


My husband has vertigo too. so I understand completely.

Margaret said...

It sounds awful. I had a virus once that made me very dizzy, but it also came with nausea and...you know. Quite unpleasant.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

That is strange you both had it. Glad it's gone for both of you!