4 Things I Never Thought I’d Know About Vertigo

by Jenny Hansen

The world has been rocking and pitching uncontrollably lately at my house. Not because of California earthquakes, but simply because I’ve been fighting vertigo since September 10th. It turns out vertigo is a lot more common than I thought, and at least twice as scary.

What do I mean by “vertigo?”

Vertigo is when you feel like you’re rotating, rolling and spinning, even when you’re still. Combine this with some wicked motion sickness whenever I walk or turn, and it all adds up to one wildly unhappy Jenny.

vertigo, BPPV

Yeah…imagine being whipped around in this Epley chair.

Or having the floors and walls move in the Hippie Balance Booth

Or having the floors and walls move in the Hippie Balance Booth

What the heck causes it? Considering I never thought I’d have it, I’ve been shocked at how easy it is to get. The inner ear can become inflamed because of illness, or in my case, a bad allergy attack.Also, for those of us over 40, the small crystals or stones found normally within the inner ear tend to become more easily displaced and cause irritation to the cilia of the inner ear’s semicircular canals, leading to vertigo.

Note: When your mom says “you have rocks in your head,” you really DO.

Also, according to the auditory people? 50 percent of people are at risk to develop vertigo in their lifetime. My primary care doc handed me a six-page leaflet on “benign paroxysmal positional vertigo” (BPPV) and said he sees it several times a year.

How do you get rid of it?

The first few days I had it, I’d have said the only way to calm it down was to remain perfectly still. I spent those days looking at my phone for short periods with my head tilted and one eye closed.

But then I went to an auditory and balance center for testing and they put me in contraptions like the ones you see above. The great thing is, I found out my hearing is normal and it’s unlikely. The downside is all that jostling made everything worse.

Does anything help?

The night of the testing, my husband and I decided to take my sister-in-law’s advice (she’s a PT) and try the “Foster Half-Somersault Maneuver.” Before you start worrying about doing somersaults across your living room floor, it’s all done on your hands and knees.

We call it THE MOVE in my house and without it, I promise you, I would still be hurling every time I walked. I’ve done this thing in most of the rooms at my house, my backseat and the conference room at work. Everyone in my circle now knows what I mean when I say, “I had to do the move.” Really, it’s kind of sad.

It took five tries for the Foster maneuver to work for me that first time, and I lost my stomach in between everyone one of them. But that kept the vertigo away for a day or so, which was AWESOME. But then it came back. Again. And again. I actually fear it more than blood clots since I KNOW what causes those.

When THE MOVE doesn’t work.

After several tries with the Foster maneuver, I got the particles out. However, if you are near a great auditory center, they might have the Epley chair, which will do the same thing at a much quicker pace. The Foster is for those of you who aren’t near one of those centers, or who are impatient like me.

Once the particles are out of the tubes in your inner ear, the Foster maneuver must be discontinued. Sometimes those particles can cause a dysfunction in the way your brain and your ear talk to each other. Indeed if the signals start getting crossed, your eyes and legs will have to be retrained to get your ear back in sync. It’s called vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) and it takes 6-8 weeks. There is a 93% success rate. I’m doing it right now, so I’ll keep y’all posted on how it goes.

Have you, or anyone close to you, ever experienced vertigo? How long did it last, and what made it go away? Continue the discussion at the #SocialIn hashtag on Twitter or SocialInDC on Facebook!

~ Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

© 2014 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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