by Suw on December 14, 2007

No, not the film, or the song, but the swimmy, dizzy feeling I get when I lie down, turn over, or tip my head back. I’ve had it for the last three months, ever since I turned over in the middle of the night and suddenly felt all gooey. I had been hoping it was my wisdom tooth at fault, but that’s long gone and the vertigo is still here, so I finally went to the doctors to see what they had to say about it.

It turns out that I have Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (that’s the exact info sheet that the doctor printed out for me). Apparently, it’s caused bit little bits of debris floating about in my semicircular canals which bump into the hairs that line the canals and thus send more signals to my brain than strictly required. These messages confuse my brain, (easily done), as they conflict with signals from my other ear, eyes, and the rest of my body (which provides positional information through proprioception), and that makes me feel dizzy. Luckily, I don’t get nausea with it, nor have I passed out at any point. Indeed, when I’m upright, the sense of vertigo is very faint, and it only becomes a problem when I sit or stand up from lying down, at which point I wobble like a drunk on a tightrope.

I have some exercises to do, which should apparently shift the debris back to the vestibule (which connects the semicircular canals in a sort of sump-like way). The exercise I’m attempting to emulate is called the Epley Manoeuvre, but from what I’ve seen online that’s something that should be done by a proper doctor or physio, rather than by me in my bedroom. I’m not sure that there’s much chance of me having a proper Epley Manoeuvre done any time soon, so I’m left with attempting something similar myself in the hope that it might do the trick. Even if it doesn’t, it seems that waiting is pretty much the usual treatment of choice, as in some cases at least, vertigo just clears up:

BPPV is a condition that often goes away on its own after several weeks or months without any treatment. One study said the condition had resolved in an average of 10 weeks. The otoconia [debris] are thought to either ‘dissolve’ or move to a place in the labyrinth where they cause no symptoms.

I do have drugs to combat the wooziness and nausea, but I can’t drink if I take them, so I’m going to at least wait til after the New Year before I give them a try, as the vertigo isn’t debilitating, just annoying.

The worst thing is the fact that vertigo is common in “older people”. Oh dear. Do I count as “older” now?

WriTerGuy December 16, 2007 at 2:59 am

I would pursue getting the Epley done by a professional, and soon. My wife has BPPV, and it took her a while to get back to normal even after the Epley stopped the dissonant balance signals. The brain, adaptive marvel that it is, tries to figure out the new signal patterns, and if you go for too long it forgets its old pre-BPPV ways. Be nice to your brain, is my motto.

Suw December 18, 2007 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for the tip. I hadn’t really thought about how my brain must be getting used to the additional signals, but it makes perfect sense. I have an appointment with my chiropractor on Friday to do the Epley manouevre for me, so hopefully that will do the trick.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: