I want to share a scary story with you. A few weeks ago, I woke at my usual 3:30 in the morning. I quickly sat up in bed and immediately fell to the floor.
I lay there stunned for a moment and then tried to sit up. The room was spinning. I slowly pushed myself upright using the bedspread for leakage.
When I managed to get to my feet, I had to hold on to furniture while traveling slowly towards the bathroom.
After standing at the sink for a few moments, the dizziness dissipated. I slowly walked from the bathroom to the kitchen, again using furniture to support myself.
I sat at the kitchen table sweating, with ringing ears, wondering what was wrong with me. I finally called family and asked them to take me to doctor.
Two hours later, my diagnosis was vertigo and double ear infections.
I missed a few days of work while trying to get a handle on the vertigo hopping the antibiotics would make it go away.
Well, that did not happen.
The medication did make it less daunting to walk and drive but I had to remain upright (no bending over) and no turning quickly.
Later, a friend told me I probably had knocked some of my “head rocks” loose. I looked at her as if she'd just offered me a glass of milk that had been sitting in the sun on a countertop all day.
Turns out, she was right!
After doing research, here is what I learned.
Our ears have tiny pebbles of calcium carbonite in the inner ear that helps us maintain our sense of balance.
These “ear rocks,” also called Otoliths, are located deep in the inner ear in a small pouch called a utricle.
When we move our heads, these small rocks move around and bump into nerve cells. The nerve cells send signals to our brain that tell it which way the head is leaning. It's how we know up from down, left from right.
Mini Ear Avalanche
Occidentally these little rocks fall out of the utricle and get into another part of the inner ear canals. When this happens the brain gets confused. It thinks we're moving more than we really are, resulting in unsteadiness or dizziness.
Head injury, viruses, or as in my case, an ear infection are the most common causes for “mini ear avalanches”. They are much more common in adults over fifty.
What's the Cure?
If you are willing to wait, the problem will sometimes resolve itself after several weeks.
Well, I am not good at waiting so I went searching for a quick resolution to my vertigo problem.
There is a very simple, yet clever, treatment called the Eply Maneuver. This choreographed sequence of head movements cause the misplaced rocks to roll back into the utricle.
I suggest you discuss this maneuver with your doctor before trying it. To evaluate and correct BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) an ear, nose and throat specialist administers the Dix-Hallpike maneuver.
I also found sleeping in a semi-recumbent position for two or three nights helped as well as keeping my head vertical during the day. I'd use two pillows and avoided sleeping on my “bad” side.
Also, avoid trips to hairdressers, dentists, or any type of physical exercise requiring you to sit up, lie down, or bend over quickly (push-ups, sit-ups, or toe touching).
Your vertigo may not be as easy to cure as mine was.
This maneuver has been successful in approximately 85% of all cases.
The Epley Maneuver is a non-invasive and painless way to find relief from certain benign cases of vertigo and dizziness.