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Show 816: Balance Disorders (Archive)

Vertigo or unremitting dizziness can make life miserable. Learn how to describe your balance disorder so the doctor can diagnose and treat it.
David Kaylie, MD

Most children love to roll or spin until they feel dizzy. But though adults may also enjoy amusement rides, unwanted dizziness is no fun. There are many potential causes, and diagnosis can be difficult.

What Are the Causes of Vertigo?

A leading expert on balance disorders helps us sort out the various types of vertigo and how they can be treated.

This Week’s Guest:

David M. Kaylie, MD, FACS, is Associate Professor and Medical Director of the Vestibular Lab in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Duke University Medical Center.
Dr. Kaylie suggests that if your physician cannot solve your balance disorder, you may need to look for a specialist. One place to look is: www.Vestibular.org

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. Podcasts can be downloaded for free for six weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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The best source for information and referrals is the Vestibular Disorders Association of America (VEDA). They have and excellent website, a publication and list of practitioners nationwide who are skilled in the treatment of dizziness and vertigo and other vestibular disorders.
I have had BPPV ( twice), neuritis and another unknown balance problem. Also had 6 months of vestibular therapy (it literally saved my life). the information is invaluable.

Wonderful interview. My husband has been suffering for 12 yrs. with vertigo. We have been to doctors from N.Y.City to Tampa, Fl. and every kind. Most have been understanding but not helpful and others not interested in getting to the answers. All expected him to live with it. Needless to say, our lives have forever been changed. He has had the tests Dr. Kaylie spoke of numerous times and brain scans. An ENT doc. has him on Meclazine twice a day. (he is now going to be off of it ) Same doc. put him on a tranquilizer and he took a bad fall hurting his ribs.
People do not believe he is so ill because other than too many red blood cells that he takes meds. for he has had numerous xrays, ct.scans, etc. and is o.k. physically. Tried to go to Mayo but they do not accept HMO’S or CASH. Two wks. ago we started with an new Neurologist who sent for his reports from said tests and we are waiting to hear from him. We recently went to a Vestibular Therapist but after 2 wks. suggested we do the therapy at home. Will look up Vest.org physicians. Thank you for the Dr. Kaylie interview. We can hope again. Mrs. McB.

We need a cure of treatment that really works, this is a terrible disease!!

Susan- again sorry. I meant that the Sea-bands are elastic wrist band that have a plastic ball that rests on a acupressure point. I wear them for about 3/4 of a day when I get “wavy” and the dizziness goes away and stays away. I thought they were crazy but I bought them when I was desperate. They can be used by children who get car sick and are used for people during chemo too.

I am that person Dr. Kaylie described. I walk with a constant “floaty” feeling waiting for my surroundings to catch up with me. I try to function like a normal person, but it’s challenging to sit in a meeting or focus on one person for conversation w/out feeling like I’m going to fall backwards. Forget shopping-it immediately puts me in overstimulation mode and I have to hang on to the grocery cart for dear life.
And I can’t sit on a bar stool in my own kitchen without fear of falling off. IF I didn’t have a dog to walk me, I wouldn’t be able to take daily walks on my own. The anxiety is something I never experienced until all of this started 5 years ago. My ENT & I have gone down a list of possible triggers and we’ve tried everything, from Epley maneuver to various drugs to chiropractic care and thinking it may be hypothyroid problem.
The ONLY thing that has worked somewhat is the birth control pill, even though I’m 53 yrs old and still getting periods. It took 3 months for any effects to show up but now after being on the pill for 6 months, my female internist & I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the 25 mg dose is too strong and now trying lower dosage. Still can’t tell if this is migraineous vertigo as the roller coaster of estrogen/progesterone levels tend to cause migraines which do trigger fullness in my ears/head, difficulty working on the computer for long periods of time w/out feeling very “floaty”, severe nausea and horrible anxiety. I will be calling Dr. Kaylie to schedule appt w the lab. I am fortunate enough to live in Raleigh NC.
I only noticed one comment refer to hormones. Has anyone else had success with hormone therapy as a solution to this chronic challenging feeling?

You might want to try “seabands”. You can find them at the drugstore next to the dramadine. These are two elastic bands worn on the wrists. The bands have a plastic ball that rests on an acupuncture point for dizziness. I have found this to be the most helpful thing for BPPV.

This program was so informative. My mother has been diagnosed with vertigo just recently. For the past few months we have had an awful time with it. She is 76, and we have been in the emergency room once because of it. I fear that she will fall and that could be catastrophic in an elderly person. But her present doctor (and I have been telling her to change doctors) has told her to LIVE WITH IT… when I heard your show last night and you said that you do NOT HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT, I was ecstatic.
It is so scary for me to see my Mom walking along the wall to get around. I just happened to turn to the station WBGO in NJ, and was like they are talking about VERTIGO. I arrived home and didn’t get out of the car until the broadcast was over. I then immediately called my Mom and told her about the show, and that I was going to get her the CD. Because I am not certain the type of vertigo she has has been diagnosed.

Hi all! First off, I would like to thank the People’s Pharmacy for posting this thread! I am a pharmacist and a yoga teacher. I started with the “symptoms” almost a year ago, mostly when switching lanes while driving. I was misdiagnosed w BPPV based on the nystagmus, and, although I did have a brief resolution, it came back with a vengeance this past fall.
I had the constant brain fog, could not go in stores, hold a conversation, even look at someone face to face… my eyes were always shifting and I had a constant shakiness inside, causing horrendous anxiety. I didn’t really “spin”..it was more like an overall disequilibrium. I was so depressed all the time and teaching yoga was quite the challenge. My neurologist had basically dismissed me and, finally, I went to an ENT who told me it was first migraine associated vertigo, then, when the Topamax failed to help, he sent me to a new neurologist, who told me he believed it was an inner ear thing.
Lo and behold, after rotatory testing and confirmed by caloric testing, I was found to have 62% vestibular loss on my left side and diagnosed with vestibular neuritis. Even though there is no cure, I think having a diagnosis that fits and finally makes sense has helped me start to overcome, along with the VRT that I go to weekly. I can now focus, the fog and depression and anxiety are gone, and I have found myself again. My joy is back! So, for anyone else out there who may be going through similar, be persistent, as you are the best advocate for your own healthcare. And, know that life as normal can come back!!

I was diagnosed two years ago with oscilopsia cased by bilateral vestibulopathy. Has anyone heard of this?

Thank you for the information provided in this program. I used to experience a temporary roaring sound in my ears if I got up quickly and started walking after having sat for an extended period of time. This certainly alleviated my concern in that regard.
On the subject of hearing in general, several years ago I undertook an extensive project; audio transcribing interviews of holocaust survivors, elderly people with weak voices and very strong European accents. This required a level of very focused listening for extended periods of time. The result was very strong improvement in my hearing ability, as if that concentrated listening had somehow exercised my ears! It’s been over a year since that project was completed and my hearing is much more acute today than when I started the project.

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