Have you seen Inside a Vertigo Attack? I never expected the kinds of comments I’m getting. I suspect there are not too many first-person accounts of what it’s like to live with vertigo.
I live with a form of dizziness called oscillopsia. I have no vestibulo-ocular reflex on my right side. That means when my head goes up and down, my field of vision also moves up and down. When my head goes side to side, my field of vision goes side to side. It’s quite disorienting. (Yes, this stinks.) My medication dampens the effects of this vertigo.
I only have BPPV when I fall down. Falling is what appears to dislodge my crystals.
Here’s how I maintain what, for me, is normal:
- Get enough good sleep. I seem to need more sleep than I used to need. I need about eight good hours every night. I can try to shortchange myself, but I’ll fall asleep on the couch at night. Of course, I see nothing wrong with a “couch nap” before I go to bed anyway. Make sure you have uninterrupted sleep. Debug your sleep. You need to recharge your body, so your best self can get through the next day. When you have a vestibular disorder, you use a lot of brain energy just remaining upright.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day. Water is key. I drink green tea in the morning and a lot of seltzer because I like it. I don’t like cold water or very hot beverages. Watch your caffeine. Some is okay. A lot is not good for me.
- Updated Dec 31, 2015: As evidenced by the comments below, don’t just watch your caffeine. Eliminate it. You might discover that caffeine, even just a small amount, makes your vertigo much worse.
- Stay away from lots of sodium. I discovered that MSG could trigger a vertigo attack. I felt uncomfortable now after eating what I thought was a reasonable amount of smoked salmon. What you used to eat may not be what you can eat now.
- Watch your sugar. I low carb, and have for many years. I do it out of choice. Every so often, I allow myself a treat. But on those occasions, I have noticed I become much dizzier. Is there a connection? I think so. I am much more vigilant now and feel much better the more I stick to my low carb diet.
- Assess your ability to walk on your own. Do you need assistance? My life improved dramatically once I started using a cane. My cane allows me to walk and not have to concentrate so hard when I do walk. Updated: I now use a rollator outside the house. I feel much more capable and stable.
- Ask for help when you need it. When I travel to conferences, I feel as if I have an army of friends and colleagues all watching out for me. Staying hydrated is especially difficult at conferences. Everyone is quite politically correct these days, so it’s harder to get bottle of water. It’s quite easy to get bottles of soda, which either have sugar or caffeine. I ask for help when I’m not traveling, too.
- Keep a journal. Your vertigo is specific to you. Only you will know your triggers. Just because I think something is useful does not mean you will find it useful.
A bonus #8: take a look at the Books page. I especially found the Gonzales book, Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience very helpful.
Here’s a bonus #9: Find an ENT (first) who specializes in vestibular symptoms. Not all do. If your ENT doesn’t help you, find a neurologist. You need a diagnosis. (Updated Jul 18, 2016.)
Your vertigo is based in your inner ear. Your inner ear is the size of your pinky fingernail. We have inadequate imaging that far into our brains. We have a few cc’s of liquid in our inner ears. Clearly, these are sensitive systems. The fact that they work most of the time is a miracle.
Take a look at the what the Vestibular Disorders Association has to say about your vertigo, too.
You have to become an expert on your body. You have to see your own reality and make choices about your body, your medication, and your lifestyle that fit for you. Good luck.
- Falling For It
- Couch Naps Win