A couple of years ago, we took our kids to Disney. Because I was pregnant with my twins, I got excused from all the thrill seeking and was able to observe, from a safe distance, all the spins and twists. I loved rides as a kid, but now, the sign that reads, “Must Be Accompanied by an Adult” prompts an immediate wave of nausea. My husband went on every roller coaster in ALL the parks, and the only ride with the ability to erase the I-am-a-kid-again-woohoo smile off his face was the Tea Cups. Yes, they look harmless … pastel cups and saucers, charmingly chipped in all the right places. But beware — while toddlers can spin and spin until they fall down just for the fun of it, adults do not have the same luxury. Sadly, even our inner ears have aged. Last Friday, he took the kids to a local carnival. You know, the kind where you strap your kids into death-defying contraptions that were put together only moments before by a teenager wearing a t-shirt that says, “There’s too much blood in my alcohol system.” That night, he was awake with severe vertigo and nausea. I felt badly, but it was all I could do not to crack a Tea Cup joke.
1. It is important to differentiate the two main types of “dizziness”. Being lightheaded (presyncope), is when you feel like you are going to pass out. Often this will be accompanied by cold sweats, nausea and tremors. Vertigo is when you feel as if the whole world is spinning around you. It is also often accompanied by nausea and is made worse by changes in position.
2. Vertigo can be caused by problems in the inner ear or in the brain. Together, these two organs work to organize your perception of space and help you maintain your balance.
3. BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo. It stands for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (focus on benign) and describes vertigo symptoms made worse with position; getting up from bed, moving the head quickly, etc.
– Inflammation of the inner ear from an infection can cause vertigo lasting for several days and requiring bedrest.
– Other causes of vertigo are Meniere’s disease in which there is a build up of fluid in the ear, certain types of Migraines, and benign tumors called Acoustic Neuromas. More rare but serious causes are strokes, brain hemorrhages and multiple sclerosis.
I wouldn’t know, but I have been told by those more irresponsible than I, Tequila can also produce this sensation.
4. When Should You Worry — If you have ever experienced vertigo, you know the most pressing concern is how to get rid of it. It is, at its mildest, disorienting and, at its worst, incapacitating. After that, you start to worry you are dying. If you have no symptoms other than the vertigo, give it some time before calling in the troops. If it persists more than a few hours or is severe, see a physician. Accompanying symptoms that should prompt a more immediate medical evaluation are blurred vision, weakness of the muscles of the face or body, headache, protracted vomiting and disabling balance problems.
5. Treatment – BPPV, which is caused by the formation of crystals in the inner ear, can often be cured with maneuvers called canalith repositioning. A doctor will simply move your head in different, specific ways to shift the crystals out of the inner ear. Other causes of vertigo can be treated with medication, physical therapy and sometimes, surgery.
I cured my husband’s vertigo with canalith repositioning! Thanks to my extensive training and repositioning prowess, he will be back on the Tilt-a-Whirl in no time. Do you think I got any credit? No. I was expecting a back rub at the very least. I literally stopped the world for him, allowing him to get off … ahhhh, the enormous power and responsibility of a physician. By the way, you can learn how to do it YouTube.