Vertigo and Meniere's Disease: Feeling Dizzy
Synopsis: Vertigo is a subtype of dizziness in which a patient inappropriately experiences the perception of motion (usually a spinning motion) due to dysfunction of the vestibular system.1
Author: Mark Parsec2 Contact: blogz.org
Published: 2009-07-07 Updated: 2020-03-16
When I experience a vertigo episode I always fall to the left. The world spins clockwise. Sometimes the vertigo comes on gradually giving me time to take precautions.
It is generally accepted that the vertigo results from faulty nerve signals sent from your ears where balance is regulated by your body.
The world has been spinning out of control now for about fourteen years! I mean that both literally and metaphorically.
For it was then that I was diagnosed with a strange disease that I had never even heard of previously. Meniere's Disease or Meniere's Syndrome causes vertigo. You know... that strange sensation that people have when they drink too much and they get the "spins".
Vertigo is a subtype of dizziness in which a patient inappropriately experiences the perception of motion (usually a spinning motion) due to dysfunction of the vestibular system. It is often associated with nausea and vomiting as well as a balance disorder, causing difficulties with standing or walking.
There are Three Types of Vertigo:
- The first is known as objective and describes when the patient has the sensation that objects in the environment are moving.
- The second type of vertigo is known as subjective and refers to when the patient feels as if they are moving.
- The third type is known as pseudovertigo, an intensive sensation of rotation inside the patient's head.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo - the sudden sensation that you're spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning.
When I experience a vertigo episode I always fall to the left. The world spins clockwise. Sometimes the vertigo comes on gradually giving me time to take precautions. Yet, usually, the vertigo comes on suddenly, unexpectedly, violently.
When I experience a violent vertigo attack I usually fall hard upon the ground, sometimes feeling almost as if I have been thrown down.
Because the world appears to be spinning, I close my eyes to help counteract the optical illusion. I become separated from my body, in a sense, which is responding to false signals of centrifugal force which creates the sensation of falling. The kind of sensation you feel when you "fall" in your sleep. The sensation of falling, however, does not end when my body hits the ground. The falling sensation may last for as long as two or three hours. Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, confusion and weakness generally follow.
During these attacks my perception of time is altered. I can respond to questions and carry on a conversation, but the words do not seem to be coming out of my mouth, they seem to be traveling through a long tunnel. Sounds and lights seem far away.
Through these past fourteen years, I have seen some changes in the way I think about my disease.
When the disease first set on I was terrified.
I did not know what was happening to my body. Many times I thought that I was dying. It took years for the doctors to figure out exactly what the problem was. Diagnosing Meniere's means ruling out other possible causes for vertigo. The doctors suspected everything from migraines, to strokes and tumors. Wonderful ideas for me to ponder! Yes, I was scared, immobilized, disabled. And nothing that the doctors did was able to relieve my condition.
As time goes on I am becoming more and more familiar with my disease.
Much like a person who becomes familiar with a broken appliance. One day, many years ago, I was feeling rather energetic. I wanted to go dancing. I hadn't been dancing in a long time and some friends had given me an invitation to go to an alcohol free dance in the next town over. Only, one problem, the doctors had already taken my drivers' license away. But, I was feeling pretty good. I hadn't had a vertigo attack in a few days. And I know I shouldn't have... but away I went, driving in my friend's Lincoln Continental.
I didn't make it three miles down the road before I was suddenly struck by a vertigo attack. There I was, driving someone else's car, doing about fifty miles per hour and BOOM... everything started spinning. man was I ever scared!. Somehow I managed to pull the car off to the side of the road... the left hand side of the road that is. I parked and rested for nearly an hour before I felt confident enough to slowly drive the vehicle back home.
I don't drive any more. I have had vertigo attacks while I was showering, dressing, cooking, eating, sitting, walking, shopping, watching TV, swimming, typing, climbing stairs, crossing stress, riding as a passenger in a vehicle, reading, laying down, and even when engaged in sex.
I have learned that some things can set off a vertigo attack. Like being angry, sad, or overly excited. Loud noises also seem to cause these disturbances. As well as the sound of hammers, horns, yelling, multiple voices talking in a closed room and cars driving past. But, even small noises sometimes disturb me, if it is of something that is traveling. Echoes bother me.
How Can I Describe the Onset of an Attack?
In a way the vertigo attack strikes suddenly, like a sneeze, which cannot be restrained. And just as a sneeze is often proceeded by a tickling sensation, so also some vertigo episodes are proceeded by a sensation. this sensation is difficult to describe. Just as the tickle before a sneeze is not always the same. But the sensation of the onset of vertigo causes a tickling sensation akin to that which one might experience on a carnival ride. It is a sensation which sweeps over my entire body in waves, and is, to some extent, euphoric.
To Resist the Vertigo Sensation is Hopeless
For to do so requires a tremendous amount of strength and concentration, which often results in prolonging the attack and increasing nausea. The sensation of resistance is similar to that which one may expect to feel when they are in a centrifuge, fighting against artificial gravity, every movement is strained.
So, I don't go out much any more. I have slowed down a lot. I am learning to maintain a certain level of relaxation. I walk slower, I take rests frequently. I do not allow myself to get upset or excited. If you think you know somebody that has Meniere's Disease encourage them to seek professional medical advice. Some medications and procedures are available. However, many of these just don't help. Meniere's is generally accompanied by tinnitus (persistent ringing in the ear) and hearing loss. You must remember Meniere's is not just a matter of feeling dizzy. Vertigo is a very distinct sensation, which unfortunately is defined as an "hallucination" because the world is not really spinning around, although every fabric of your being is trying to convince you that it is.
What Causes Meniere's Disease?
Well, the last I heard physicians were not exactly sure what causes the disease, although such things as allergies, infection and injury may play a decisive role in the onset of the disease.
It is generally accepted that the vertigo results from faulty nerve signals sent from your ears, where your balance is regulated by your body.
If the signal from one ear does not match the signal in the other ear... the brain registers TILT, and you experience vertigo.
Also see our list of Famous People with Menieres Disease
2Source/Reference: Mark Parsec (blogz.org). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.
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