All of a sudden the world was spinning like a merry go round, my vision was rotating a mile a minute and I was just trying to get out of bed. I had rolled over and sat up, but had to lay right back down. My vision was spinning, my world was rotating, and I felt sick. This happened off and on for days.
Dizziness and vertigo are not created equal, but both are common symptoms of MS. Dizziness is categorized by feeling off balance or lightheaded. You can feel weak and also feel like you’re about to faint. Vertigo is a feeling of motion and can make someone feel like they or their surroundings are spinning. The floor will often seem like it is moving or rising upwards. Often times nausea and vomiting will accompany vertigo as well. Many people use these words interchangeably, but they are far from the same.
There are several causes of vertigo in the MS population, lesions and BPPV. A lesion or lesions that are located in the brain stem, cerebellum or at the eighth cranial nerve can cause issues with dizziness or vertigo. The eighth cranial nerve is involved with balance mechanisms within your inner ear.
BPPV is benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo, which is a very common cause of vertigo among people with MS. BPPV occurs specifically with movement of the head, especially when getting out of bed, rolling over in bed, tipping the head sideways or tipping backwards to look upwards. This movement will induce a feeling of vertigo and usually it will last for a few minutes.
BPPV is caused by small calcium crystals that are usually attached to the tiny hairs in your inner ear, that have come loose. These tiny hairs detect movement, and when the crystals become dislodged and can move around freely, they stimulate the hairs which sends false movement signals to the brain.
There are many ways to treat vertigo as well. When it occurs, sit down safely until it is over. Try to avoid moving your head or body, avoid trying to read and don’t attempt stairs or trying to drive until it totally passes. If it is an on-going issue or has been happening frequently, think about using walking assistance or shower chair.
There are several medications available for vertigo and the nausea associated with it. One of the unfortunate side effects of the medications is drowsiness, which we often feel anyway, so it’s just adding insult to injury. If vertigo is caused by BPPV, there are non-medication options as well, such as painless maneuvers to counteract the vertigo.
Vertigo has been present for me on and off throughout the past several years. It has been mostly present prior to my three relapses, which I am still confused about. Based on my symptoms, I believe that I have BPPV, but I do have lesions present in the corresponding areas of the brain. I’ve struggled with severe vertigo and thankfully my hubby has been around to catch me when I’ve needed it. I also deal with dizziness frequently as well and often feel unsteady on my feet and deal with proprioception issues.
I dealt with the vertigo for days, and I had to be as still as possible during these times. It meant I had to be careful everywhere I went also, just in case vertigo struck. This happened before every relapse as well.
This is worst feeling ever and so far nothing helps me except diazapam and meclazine. The meds do make you drowsy but better than spinning and vomiting. When will this ever go away?!
I hate the feeling too! So disorienting. Is yours fairly constant?