Today’s post is going to get personal because it’s in regards to a physical issue I deal with from time to time. If you’re in tune with my YouTube channel or Snapchat (username is ‘Adaleta‘) you may have known I was dealing with vertigo last October and November. If you ever experience this dizziness (this is more common in women than it is in men) I hope my story can help you understand what to do and how to remain calm.
While I know there are significantly worse ailments out there, vertigo has been a severe test of my physical capabilities. Web MD describes vertigo as “a sensation of spinning. If you have these dizzy spells, you might feel like you are spinning or that the world around you is spinning.” Now I’ve read a few articles here and there about how to “treat it” but it’s not a true treatment because it can come back and happen at any moment. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor but I have experienced vertigo in my day to day life.
eMedicine says “vertigo is caused by problems in the brain or inner ear, including sudden head movements, inflammation within the inner ear due to a viral or bacterial inner ear infection, Meniere’s disease, tumors, decreased blood flow to the base of the brain, multiple sclerosis, head trauma and neck injury, migraine headaches, or complications from diabetes.” The most common response I received from medical professionals was that I had BPPV which has to do with crystals in my inner ear. The crystals somehow became loose so anytime I made a movement, the crystals were pushing against an area of my ear which threw my balance off causing me to feel like I was on a boat. Not the partying “I’m A BOAT yeah I’m a BOAT” way but in the “I’m going to throw up on everyone around me way.”
I have dealt with vertigo in two really tough episodes. Episodes are periods of time where it’s likely you will get dizzy (sometimes an episode is a week and other times it’s ongoing for months.) When I was 17, I had terrible cystic acne, my periods were irregular and I wanted to get my hormones in check. My doctor recommended a certain birth control (I don’t recall the name) and I started taking it. After three days, I was in bed dizzy and sick and I could not get out of bed. My mom was worried and we realized that for whatever reason, the birth control had somehow offset the vertigo for me. This was an easy fix. I stopped taking the birth control and was perfectly fine. Vertigo gone.
Last October, I was working out and suddenly got a bad spell of dizziness. I felt light-headed so I wasn’t too worried about it. Just assumed I hadn’t drank enough water or I was jumping too much in the workout. Until the next morning, when I swished my head around to get it into a ponytail and I fell over completely because of dizziness. I was literally on the ground and when I hit the ground, I was still spinning for minutes after the face. I went on a trip to Kansas and North Carolina that same week and the vertigo only escalated and got worse. The week after this trip, the vertigo was so bad I spent all day Sunday in bed trying to sleep the dizziness away but it would not stop. Whether my eyes were open or closed, I felt the spinning. I couldn’t eat anything because the spinning made me so sick and I spent most of the time awake hugging the toilet. I don’t know how to describe it other than it’s a combination of travel sickness, drunken sickness and rollercoaster adrenaline all tossed into one horrible nauseating sensation. Vertigo tore apart several weeks of my life last year.
I went to see my doctor, went to a couple of specialists and they all said I was young and the vertigo would go away. Luckily, it did go away finally so I could enjoy December and the holidays. We traveled to Cancun end of December and I was worried that the flight, boats and swimming would bring it back. I had a slight fear because I had a recurring nightmare that I’d jump into the ocean and I would get dizzy under water and none of my friends would see me and I’d drown *gulp*. I even made an SOS hand motion with my boyfriend in case I did get dizzy in the water. It’s really scary. I worry it will randomly hit me when I am driving, and if it does, all I can do is pull over quickly until the sensation passes or until I can call someone to come pick me up.
I cannot say I have mastered the area of overcoming it, but I will tell you the fear of it has not kept me from doing things I love or new things when I travel. I will never let vertigo define my life or what I do in it. I will fight it until I’m blue in the face.
When it comes to tips for managing vertigo, I have a few (remember, not a doctor.) These have just helped me manage. The Epley maneuver is helpful. On that horrible Sunday I mentioned above, it did not help me and actually made everything worse, but typically this got me to a place where I could go on with my day. I carry Bonine, Antivert and other motion sickness meds with me where ever I go. If I feel slightly light-headed, I’ll be proactive and take one so it doesn’t get worse over the course of a few hours. Because I have lower blood pressure on an ongoing basis, I tend to be conscious of how quickly I get up. If you’ve been sitting for a bit, be slow to get up. Don’t spring out of your seat because this can leave you light-headed. Get up slowly. Stay hydrated. It’s a no brainer. If you’re dehydrated, you’re more likely to get a headache or get dizzy. I find that drying my hair after washing it (not leaving it to air-dry like I normally would) AND making sure a lot of shower water doesn’t get in my ears is HUGE. If I wasn’t careful while showering, the additional water in my ears caused more vertigo spells. These two items aren’t proven by anyone, but I found they helped me personally. Someone messaged me over Instagram a couple of months ago and said that salty foods also increase the likelihood of vertigo so salty peanuts and chips are likely not my friend, especially if I’m in a vertigo episode.
Have you dealt with vertigo? Do you have tips?
**I hope this post helps at least one person who is experiencing or experiences vertigo in their lifetime. The most important thing i don’t panic, the sensation will pass! If you have questions or would like to share your own vertigo experience, please do so in the comments below. If you’d prefer a more private setting, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear from you!