I have excellent health and the only thing I can remember visiting the doctors for in the past 9 years since we moved to Tenerife is an inhaler for my breathing problems that are connected to my sinuses so nothing worth worrying about. I was, therefore, rather concerned when a few weeks ago I turned over in the middle of the night only to feel I was falling out of bed. The room was spinning around and I felt as though I would be sick. It was from what I remember a little like a hangover but I haven´t had one of those for a long time!
The next morning I woke and the image was still vivid but I assumed I had been dreaming however, when I went to get out of bed the whole room again began to spin around and I staggered to the bedroom door and immediately banged into it. There was no way I was going to attempt the stairs. The horrible sensation felt as if it lasted several minutes but it was probably only a few seconds. Again I passed it off, however when I had several short episodes of intense dizziness throughout the week, I began to worry. Because I am never ill, I have never bothered to look up symptoms for various ‘common’ conditions that my friends have so I immediately thought did I have problems with cholesterol, high or low blood pressure or was it something more sinister.
In the end, the dizzy spells were occurring so frequently that I decided to check Google and I am convinced that I have the following…..
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Tiny solid fragments that float about inside the ear cause it. Thinking back I had a pain in my left ear for a couple of days which may have been a slight ear infection but it quickly cleared, so I thought no more about it.
What happens is the fragments brush along the delicate hairs that line the ear canal and this sends confusing messages to the brain that causes intense dizziness. The vertigo typically lasts for 10-20 seconds and usually no longer than a minute, then goes away completely until the next new episode. It is triggered by a change in head position so getting out of bed and rolling over in bed are common causes of the dizziness which can also be accompanied by the feeling of wanting to be sick which can last for around an hour. In most cases, the symptoms clear away within several weeks or months. However, you may have recurrences months or years later.
I still have BPPV but I did find these simple exercises of moving the head into various positions over a few minutes can cure or at least help. This treatment uses gravity to move the tiny fragments away from where they are causing problems and once I have done these I have no further problems for several days.
If you have BPPV you may wish to try these. If you are affected by the left ear copy the images below, if it is your right ear that is causing the problems, then turn the head in the opposite direction. You should find immediate relief but if not wait 15 minutes before repeating. I suggest doing them in the middle of your bed because the first time I tried I toppled to one side, (that image alone would have been worth a photo shoot) but once you know what to expect they are worth continuing with.
It would seem that while BPPV may be unpleasant the cause is not serious. Women are affected about twice as often as men and it becomes more common the older you get. (I hate being old I have yet to find a single benefit).