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dhuffman 03-23-2010 09:14 PM

Debilitating Dizziness
Hello friends. My name is Dan, and I have had a serious and prolonged bout with dizziness and accompanying symptoms that have left me baffled and in urgent need of help. I am 23 years old, and have never had a major health problem before. To start off, I will do my best to describe the story of when my problems first began. I will then try to give a more detached, comprehensive description of my symptoms and of my attempts to find medical care.

I was sitting in a law school class in September when my symptoms first began. It was my first year attending law school, and I had finally begun to feel at ease as I was starting to get the hang of writing briefs and studying. I was listening to a lecture from one of my professors, when suddenly I felt like I was being jerked down to the floor. The sensation only lasted for a second and then was gone completely. However, it returned a few seconds later, and I continued to have clusters of feeling pulled down followed by temporary relief. Thirty minuets into the professor’s lecture, I was feeling pulled down so often that I could no longer raise my head to meet her gaze, and I could no longer concentrate well enough to effectively digest her lecture. After class ended, I managed to stand up, and I felt much better. I figured that I must have just been tired and stressed-out, so I walked back to my apartment and went to bed.

Unfortunately, the next day went no better. I tried to tough it out and do my best to comprehend the lectures and to study at the library, but I kept feeling the aforementioned pulling sensation. This especially occurred when I would be sitting and trying to concentrate. It also did not take long to notice that certain sounds could trigger the worst of my dizziness. For example, a printer turning on in a computer lab would make me jolt downward, and the sound of a door opening in a room would produce the same effect. Whenever I became more physically active, however, such as when I would walk around campus or exercise, my symptoms would disappear or decrease markedly. To keep from dragging out my personal narrative too much, I will simplify things by saying that I could not determine the cause of my ailment. I could not concentrate at all when I was like this. I ended up having to drop out of school and move back to my home state. Now, six months later, my symptoms are really no better.

Now that I’ve tried to describe how I felt at a personal level, I will do my best to describe all of my symptoms with as much clarity as possible. I will also try to talk about what some of the doctors I went to have told me.

Shortly after I started having my problem, I began to feel off-balance nearly all of the time. Even while walking or exercising, I feel as if gravity just doesn’t act or feel like it should. I find the sensation to be much the same as drunkenness. This feeling IS different than the more debilitating dizziness I seem to get when I hear certain sounds or am in a big room with sounds coming from multiple directions (e.g. a classroom). Although this symptom seems related to my more serious dizziness in that I can experience both problems simultaneously, I do not know why I feel this way or why I sometimes do not feel the more severe dizziness.

The more severe dizziness definitely seems to be made worse by sound. If some action causes a sudden noise, I may get severely messed up for a second or two. Also, this feeling of being suddenly jerked downward can happen if I am in a room in which sound input is coming from multiple directions. For example, I often get this sensation in a restaurant or auditorium, or at church. Sometimes, when I feel a sneeze coming on, I will also get this feeling. Again, I have no idea what is causing this symptom. Time laying down in a quiet room with the lights off seems to help with this.

Another issue I am having is a constant pressure in my ears, causing my ears to constantly pop. My ears do release pressure; the problem seems to be that something continuously builds pressure on my ears. They always need to pop every so often, and I can accomplish this by swallowing.

I have frequent headaches, two or three times a week, that have manifested themselves as another symptom of my problem. My ear pressure is sometimes worse when I have one of these, but the rest of my symptoms can vary during a headache.

Fluid in my ear, usually my right one, can often be felt moving around. I seem to feel this everyday at random times.

Over the last month, I have noticed an occasional problem in my chest. I will suddenly get a sinking sensation in my chest and feel very dizzy, and then the problem will subside and I will only have my typical unsteadiness. Sometimes this sensation will occur along with my worse dizziness, and at other times I will only have the sinking feeling in my chest. This problem has only occurred recently, and is quite frightening.

The first doctor that I visited about my ailment, while I was still in school, was at a walk-in clinic. He found that I had a small amount of fluid in my ears, and he gave some decongestant pills. These did nothing for me. I later went back to this clinic, and got two more Rx’s: an antibiotic and pills for dizziness. Again, there was no improvement.

The next doctor I visited was an ENT in the same city in which I had been attending school. He did a series of balancing and auditory tests on me. He found that my balance was good, likely because I was not experiencing my more serious dizziness. Also, the auditory examination showed that my hearing was intact and that my eardrums were receiving sound input the way they should. When I told him about certain sounds setting off my dizziness, he gave me some ear plugs. …..

After I moved back to my home state, I visited a general practitioner, and he prescribed the nasal spray fluticasone. After taking this for several days, I experienced a great diminishment of my symptoms that lasted for around two weeks. Even my drunk/dreamy unsteadiness went away, and my ears rarely needed to pop. However, my symptoms eventually returned despite my continuously taking the fluticasone. So, I’m really not even sure if my symptoms just went away temporarily on their own, or if this medication played a role.

Feeling bad again, I went back to the GP, and this time he did some blood work and referred me to a neurologist. The blood test showed that I am not diabetic, and didn‘t find much that was interesting. It is also worth mentioning that at times I have been shown to have slight hypertension, but most of the time my blood pressure it within normal range.

The neurologist I went to schedule an MRI for me. This doctor was not very friendly, and he did not seem all that concerned about my health. After the MRI was performed, he looked at the graphs with me and told me that “I have a very healthy brain”. When I asked about what might then be causing my problems, he told me that I was improved based what I had told him, and to see him on a need-be basis. It became quickly obvious that I needed to find another doctor.

The last doctor I have visited was an allergist. She did extensive allergy testing on me, with a negative result for all potential allergens. She has referred me to another ENT, who will hopefully look at my problem with a fresh perspective.

I have gotten temporary relief from my symptoms several times from nasal sprays and OTC sinus medications. Each time, my dizziness and other symptoms have gone away for a period of a few days up to a couple of weeks, but my symptoms always return even if I keep taking the drug I am trying. Nothing I have taken seems to work on a permanent basis.

As a final note, I should point out that I have considered that anxiety is causing my issues, especially since I started experiencing the problems while I was in law school. However, I really do not feel as if I am under any kind of stress aside from being a little freaked out over my continual problem. My issues have not resolved themselves after moving back home, and I really need to get some help soon somehow. Any help that anybody can give me would be greatly appreciated.

firebird56 03-23-2010 10:58 PM

Re: Debilitating Dizziness
This is hopefully a possibility for you to research. Have you consulted with a neurotologist? I would think you would be a candidate for an MRI or CT of your IAC (Internal Auditory Canal). Second, you might research vestibular disorders (Menier's, etc., although that usually just affects one ear & you didn't mention nausea or vomiting).
Third, a poss. B-12 deficiency. Fourth, ever had any head/spine injury to cause cervical vertigo? The list is endless, but I hope this helps!

alborde 03-26-2010 08:18 PM

Re: Debilitating Dizziness
The best advice I can give you is to see is a neurotologist.
They specialize in inner ear issues.
Your average ENT or GP is not trained to diagnose someone with an inner ear disorder.
The Vestibular Disorders Association has a list of neurolotogists.
Locate one and make an appointment.
Most likely, you will have a test called a VNG or an ENG to test the function of your inner ears. You may be given exercises to do for vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT).
Good luck!

dhuffman 03-27-2010 01:04 AM

Re: Debilitating Dizziness
Another thing that I've noticed is that, a lot of the time, when I take a Q-tip just inside of my left ear to clean it out, I will get this weird feeling. It feels as if air is moving inside of my ear. Does anyone know what that is?

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