I hope that maybe someone will be able to help me...
Sorry that this is going to be long but if it was simple I wouldn't be here!
My symptoms started about three years ago with a feeling of numbness in my legs when driving a motor vechile. I also developed around then what I call my 'afternoon hangovers', which is an intense nauseous feeling which can last several days, being worse in the afternoons and evenings.
About two years this progressed into strange and terrifying sensations when driving. When I brake I have the feeling that I am still moving and when I turn corners I feel that I am being thrown out of the car door (although I obviously do not move.) When I accelerate I feel that I am falling through the back of my seat - and everything in the middle inbetween. So when I drive I am completely out of touch with normal sensation.
When I do not have the 'balance' problem I have the numbness and worst of all for me is when I have both. Recently the numbness has spread to my hands and some days I have very little peripheral feeling and a few days later I can be fine.
Other symptoms include (sometimes in conjunction with everything else) facial flushing, bad neck and back discomfort, racing heartbeat and palpitations, strange touch-sensitive peripheral numb sensations on my face and scalp - including the back of my jawbones and lower neck.
I have very recently developed excrutiatingly bad headaches, especially over my eyes and back of my head.
I go on about the driving but apart from the nausea I have to bear at work during each episode, it is the most debilitating part of it.
Incidentally I have less problem driving my wifes car which is a small automatic as opposed to my large stick shift SUV. I think her car bounces less.
Triggers seem to be caffeine (I have abstained from all caffeine products for about two months now and its helped me with the palpitations), alcholhol, showering (seems strange but somedays I wake up feeling fine but when I get out of the shower I know I'm in for hell on the drive to work). Turning my head when reversing also gets me going...as does any lack of sleep.
I smoke (about a pack a day - plan to stop of course) and when I take a drag I can sometimes hear clicking inside my head (which I also get from sucking a straw etc). It feels like something is loose inside my head.
I get a general "clicking feeling" (I hope someone can relate to this because I sound like I'm nuts!) inside my head when I move it while I am hit with these symptoms. This whole package when it is at its worst can be 4 days on, 4 off.
Been to 3 doctors and the most sensible thing I have been given thus far is antidepressants - hell, wouldn't you be depressed, but it is not going to help the bigger picture and I seem to have a problem explaining my symptoms to anyone.
I'm pretty sure its not inner-ear-related, anxiety yes but only when deeply affected with these symptoms - driving is really hard work but fortunately I do not have far to drive to work.
I'm hoping someone has an inkling of what this might be - or can relate - or a doctor who has treated similar.
I had maxillo facial surgery about ten years ago (+/- 1/2" of jawbone removed from either side) and wondered if it could be related somehow as in a sternocleidomastoid problem.
My biggest life concerns right now are the effect of the nausea on my work performance and the almost inability to drive myself anywhere when affected. (On 'good' days I can spend quite a long time driving and love it!)
I'm male, 33, and I've got a whole lot of living to do still (but don't ask me to drive there!)
Although I'm a newbie, many thanks to you people that devote so much of your precious time to these bulletin boards!
The inner ear may not be your entire problem. But, it sure sounds like the source of a large part of it. I suggest that you see an ear, nose and throat doctor before the problem becomes so severe that you can't walk.
A possible explination for how you feel overall is a condition called peripheral neuropathy. It is deterioration of your nerves that could be caused by something your are exposed to, like chemical solvents. You may want exmine your daily routine to see if you are being exposed to chemicals.
Sometimes, a severe allergic reaction may cause balance problems. You could experiment by eliminating wheat and milk products from your diet for one week and see if it makes a difference.
What ever you choose to do, seeing the ENT doctor is first and foremost.