Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Heads Up - Literally!

I've been having dizzy spells for about five months. It got so bad at one point, I passed out while walking on a sidewalk, woke to my husband leaning over me asking what happened. How was I supposed to know?

He took me to the ER, they did a head CT, X-rays, and a multitude of other tests. I was sent to see other doctors and specialists, even a cardiologist, but no one could come up with an answer.

Most of the time, I'd get dizzy spells at random times, then when I'd bend over, or when I rolled onto my right side in bed. The dizzy spells were coming on more often. My head would get all confused and my eyes couldn't focus, and the room would spin around.

Finally, I went to see my ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist yesterday because of hearing issues. While I was there I talked to him about my dizzy issues. I was given a hearing test and then another test where I had to sit up, with my legs straight out, then the doctor would turn my head to the right and lay me backwards.

EVERY TIME he did this, the room would spin and I'd have an awful dizzy spell. He confirmed it with a couple more tests.

FINALLY! Someone knew what was happening and had a treatment program.

The diagnosis was BPPV: Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.

The definition: Caused by loose particles (canaliths) in the balance portion of the inner ear which may have migrated to an area in which they are not normally found.

The treatment: It takes nine days to do this procedure. The first 48 hours keep your head completely vertical. Wear a soft cervical collar to ensure limited movement of the neck. For the first two nights sleep on your back at a 45 degree angle. (Good thing I have a Sleep Number bed!)

For the next seven nights, I'm not allowed to sleep on my right side. I can sleep on my back or my left side.

During those final seven days, I must avoid any upward or downward head movements and only move my head and  body as a unit without any excessive turning of the neck. This is where the neck brace really helps.

Supposedly, after the nine day treatment, the dizziness should disappear, the canaliths should have moved back to their normal position, and I can go back to my normal routine.

I had NEVER heard of this before. But, after telling others, many, many people have responded with their own stories or of someone they knew. Some people were treated with medication but my doctor chose to treat me with this non-medication procedure as he thought it would work better.

Did you know?

BPPV may be made worse by any number of modifiers which may vary between individuals:
An episode of BPPV may be triggered by dehydration, such as that caused by diarrhea. For this reason, it commonly occurs in post-operative patients who have diarrhea induced by post-operative antibiotics.
BPPV is one of the most common vestibular disorders in patients presenting with dizziness; migraine is implicated in idiopathic cases. Proposed mechanisms linking the two are genetic factors and vascular damage to the labyrinth.

John Hopkins Medicine has this to say about BPPV.

It's supposed to be one the most common types of vertigo:
More than 200,000 US cases per year
Treatable by a medical professional
Requires a medical diagnosis
Lab tests or imaging rarely required
Short-term: resolves within days to weeks
So, I'm going to give this treatment a try, and we'll see how it works out in nine days. Last night was horrible. I couldn't fall asleep on my back. I was up just staring at the ceiling most of the night. Good thing I had my iPhone close by, and could distract myself with games.
If you've ever heard of BPPV, or know someone who has, I'd be interested in your stories.
Have a blessed day.