When it first happened to me it was a Sunday morning. I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. My whole world was spinning, worse than any night of heavy drinking I experienced as a fun-loving twenty-something. All sorts of doomsday scenarios were running through my head. I thought I was having a stroke. Maybe the cancer was back and landed in my brain. Or was it possibly something else very sinister I was not aware of?
My husband and I go to church on Sunday mornings but he attends the earlier service and I go to the later one. He was already at church and I couldn’t reach him. I was afraid to get up because I didn’t know what would happen. And I had to go to the bathroom as most people my age do as soon as they wake up. All I could do was lie there until I heard the door open. When he didn’t see me downstairs he came up to see if I was awake for church. I was awake but there was no way I was going to church. He helped me up and to the bathroom. The feeling was still there and I felt like I was a ship that was badly listing to one side.
I considered going to the hospital but decided to wait it out. When it didn’t get better by late afternoon, Ray finally convinced me to go to the ER. Because of my cancer history, they did a CT scan of my head. looking for evidence of something unthinkable. They found nothing except a lot of arthritis in my neck. Thank God. After much questioning and testing…I think they took some blood, someone is always taking my blood…it was determined that I must be experiencing vertigo.
So what is vertigo? Vertigo is the feeling of dizziness, like the world is spinning around you or you are spinning. Because much of your balance originates in your inner ear, vertigo is most often attributed to an inner ear issue. The inner ear signals the brain regarding head and body movements and helps maintain your balance.
According to WebMD, some of the most common causes of vertigo include:
- BPPV – Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo occurs when calcium particles cluster in the inner ear. This can occur out of nowhere but is often attributable to age.
- Meniere’s disease – This is an inner ear disorder indicated by a fluid buildup and pressure changes in the ear. Not only can it cause vertigo but also ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus, and ultimately, hearing loss.
- Vestibular neuritis – Also known as labyrinthitis, this condition affects the inner ear and is thought to be caused by a viral infection. Inflammation of the nerves affecting balance is the result of the infection, causing vertigo.
- FMD – Fibromuscular dysplasia is a rare condition that sometimes causes stenosis of some arteries. It also causes a beading effect of the arterial walls and if found in the carotid arteries, can also cause vertigo. FMD is closely associated with SCAD and is a condition I have.
How you know if you have vertigo:
- Sensations associated with vertigo include:
- out of balance
- pulling to one side
- Feeling nauseated
- Abnormal eye movements
- Ringing in the ears
- Hearing loss
Symptoms of vertigo can appear spontaneously or can also be associated with illness or migraines.
Treatment for vertigo can involve physical therapy or medicine, depending on the cause. If you experience symptoms of vertigo for the first time, you may assume the worst as I did. Don’t panic. Seek medical help if only to ease your mind but also to rule out something more serious. Some of the symptoms of vertigo are shared with more serious conditions so I would suggest that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
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