So Dizzy My Head is Spinnin’

It’s a common problem. At least once a month a patient presents to the office with two to five days of a spinning, nauseating sensation. Sometimes it is dramatic, with a miserable individual sitting in her chair, a garbage basket between her knees lest she move her head the wrong way and commence to throwing up.

Bad as these symptoms are, almost 99% of the time the episode will be short-lived and dissipate on its own. Physicians give symptomatic treatment like an anti-nausea pill to help the patient through the worst days but there are no pills that effectively treat  the problem.. The first two to three days are the worst, with milder symptoms that can last up to six weeks.

The problem is called vertigo and its cause is usually due to a disorder of the peripheral vestibular system, the equipment in your inner ear that tells your brain where you are in space. Usually the episodes occur when the patient moves his/her head in a specific direction. The medical term most common for this is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). Or sometimes we just call it labyrinthitis.

Occasionally this can become chronic and relapsing. There is a maneuver that the Ear, Nose and Throat doctors employ to help resolve severe or persistent cases called the Epley maneuver. Usually patients get resolution of their symptoms after the maneuver. It does tend to cause pretty significant symptoms during the procedure, so if you are already improving on your own, I don’t recommend this.

In the meantime:

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