The People's Perspective on Medicine

Dizziness is Driving Her Towards Suicide

Q. I am in excellent health, but most of the day I lie on my bed praying for death. Why? I am dizzy all day long. My brain feels like it’s sloshing in a bucket of water and every move sends waves of dizziness over me.

Ten months ago I was driving and living independently. Now I’ve had to give up my car and have moved from my apartment to assisted living.

I’ve had all kinds of scans and diagnostic studies, and none have shown anything abnormal. I’ve seen specialists who have prescribed a ridiculously long list of drugs for high blood pressure, high blood sugar and glaucoma. The balance specialist suggested that some of these drugs should be cut out, but so far none of the other doctors has agreed.

I know what I should do, but I don’t know how. I always kept a loaded revolver, but when I moved here a young relative spotted it and confiscated it. I’m only on the second floor, and anyway the windows are locked so I can’t jump. My pills are doled out so I can’t take too many. Though I do have some vitamin C on hand, I’ve never heard of an overdose being fatal!

My drugs include atenolol, Norvasc and hydrochlorothiazide for blood pressure, papaverine and baby aspirin for my heart, Xalatan for glaucoma, glyburide and Actos for blood sugar and Aricept, Remeron and Klonopin prescribed by the psychiatrist. Do you have any advice?

A. Several of your medications are linked to dizziness including Norvasc (amlodipine), atenolol, papaverine, glyburide, Aricept, Remeron and Klonopin (clonazepam). We don’t know whether they are responsible for your misery, but your balance specialist needs to take charge. If you are so uncomfortable that life is not worth living, a medical reevaluation of your drugs is absolutely essential. It must be done immediately!

If your high blood pressure medications are contributing to your dizziness, it is essential that you find other approaches to controlling hypertension. Your doctors must be informed of how desperate you are. This cannot be delayed and they must know the gravity of your situation.

You may find our one-hour radio interview with one of the country’s leading dizziness experts informative. Perhaps you could loan it to your doctors so they would better understand how to diagnose and treat your problem.

It is essential that your specialists rule out BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). If that is contributing to your discomfort, it could be cured in about 20 minutes. Here are links to more information about BPPV.

• Link 1

• Link 2

• Link 3

Here is a link to the program: Show # 816 with Dr. David Kaylie. The download mp3 cost is $2.99.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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One thing I forgot to mention in my post above is that a few years before I started the Pettibon Chiropractic I went through cranial manipulation. My skull bones were actually crammed together and my brain couldn’t breathe from the trauma of my fall. I had only a couple lucid hours a day before this treatment and I was greatly improved afterwards.
The dizziness didn’t go away after the cranial but at least I could function much better. The lady doesn’t say what precipitated her dizziness and I wonder if it was a result of head trauma. I still, many years later have to get my head “adjusted” as the skull bones will shift back to the position they were in for so many years.
Believe me I feel for her having gone through so similar a situation. It is wonderful to have my life back after so many lost years.

There is a phenomena called prescription drug cascading, which may be at play in worsening the symptoms the writer sought to treat in the first place. Essentially, it occurs when prescription drugs are prescribed to treat side effects of other drugs, without regard for the fact that the drugs themselves may be responsible for the ill effects. It might not hurt to see a nutritional/holistic/integrative medicine specialist or even an allergy/immunology specialist. Chiropractic can also identify spinal causes of such problems. Regardless of what triggered the dizziness in the first place, keep in mind that the more physically de-conditioned one becomes, the more likely the frequency and severity of the vertigo will increase. Finally, I would also rule out orthostatic hypotension. And if it hasn’t been done already, consider a 24-hour heart monitor/sleep study.

I am a person who has suffered with a rare disease called Mal de Debarquement Syndrome for many years. It is best described as living your life on a floating raft. Try googling this disorder. There is a support group and a few doctors who are doing research and have some knowledge of this disorder. It is relatively unknown and all other ENT tests come up negative. I am one person who the Klonopin has helped. The first year of this disease was horrible. It is manageable now. All best wishes to this person. Don’t hesitate to change doctors. If you can, do your own research online. There’s a lot of good research out there.

To the healthy person on all the medication who is dizzy all the time. Welcome to my world. I have had bouts of vertigo since I was in my 20’s. I am now 52. However, it did not consume me with dizziness everyday. What has consumed me with dizziness everyday is the klonopin which you said you were taking. How long have you been on it? Was on it for 5 years, .05 once a day. It is highly addictive and should only be taken short term.
After the first year of taking it I felt ill each and everyday and no doctor knew why. I find out much later that they body goes through inter dose withdrawal wanting an increase in medication. I did wean myself off klonopin 23 months ago and am still suffering with nausea, dizziness, hypersensitivity to noises, etc. If you think this might be the cause of your problem I can advise you a safe way to stop the klonopin. I weaned off it over a 5 month period. Still too fast I believe. The doctors seem to think that withdrawal from this drug is a few months. Wow are they sadly mistaken.

IF in fact her basic problem is with her hypertension medications, she may want to discuss a simple natural remedy WITH HER DOCTOR: Hawthorn. the capsules i take made up from the whole plant. and 3 capsules once a day in the morning with breakfast does the job for me.

I woke up one day with severe dizziness I had an appointment with my neurologist (for a neurological disorder that has nothing to do with the dizziness) two days later so I just waited to see him…he barely listened for 2 minutes and went out of the room and returned with a brochure of exercises…he said you have vertigo..bppv. do these exercises 6 times a day….well, the exercises made me so much worse I did not do them…
I went on the internet and found the treatment that works in one visit…locally, an occupational therapist performed the miracle..I found him on an internet search as well and he was local…there is nothing worse than being dizzy with head movement…please, please find someone in your area who can do the eply (or epply) (I can’t remember the spelling) maneuver. there are demos on youtube so you can see the procedure before you did make me nauseous during the session but after he was done I walked out fixed…and this was after two weeks of being unable to leave the house.

What is difference between Meniere’s Disease, (that I was diagnosed as having by Neurologist) and auto immune inner ear disease?

Dizziness was one of the main presenting symptoms I had of MS. My doctor tried me on lots of different medicines to try to see if it was related to inner ear issues also and it wasn’t. Over the past ten years or so it has progressed to being so severe at times that I can relate to how you feel, not even being able to get out of bed and just wishing it could end. If you are in “excellent health,” you shouldn’t be feeling so horrible… there has got to be something wrong somewhere. I encourage you to keep seeking answers. It’s difficult when you have so many specialists involved to coordinate everything; maybe you could find a primary care physician who would be willing to do this. Keep looking and don’t give up!!!

Poor woman. I’m in the process of reading Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s The Autoimmune Epidemic. There’s 23.5 million people suffering from autoimmune diseases–many of which may stem from the enormous amount of toxins in the environment. Since 1900 77,000 chemicals have been introduced into the environment. Only 550 have been tested. I’d recommend seeing an immunologist who’s up to date. When the medical profession is baffled, it sounds like they’re looking in the wrong place.

There are some vertebrae in the neck that can also affect dizziness. I had a serious fall in ’88 down 26 steps. One of the reslutant problems was dizziness. After a friend told me about a Pettibon Chiropractor in 2002 I went to see him. I was driving again in less than two months after treatment and the dizziness rarely comes back now.

I too had severe dizziness and balance problems. After MRI’s, medications and specialists I was finally diagnosed (after 3 years). It is a condition called autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) and you many want to inquire about this. It’s a rare disorder with debilitating side effects.
I’m taking only 2 meds which are keeping it under control and stick to a very low salt diet. Try to find a good neuro-otologyst in your area and ask about this condition.

I suggest you get a new doctor. It is obvious to me, you are taking way too much medication. The interaction of all those drugs is most likely your problem.
For some reason, some doctors today, just keep on adding pill after pill. You just might find that you don’t need all of those pills.

Could this poor person have had bad ear infections?

It may very well be something as simple as BPPV or Benign Paroxysmal positional vertigo. If so, there are doctors who have mastered the Epley Maneuver that can treat you very successfully. The maneuver is simple to learn.
I tried it from the internet but was not successful. One trip to Dr. Adunka at ENT at UNC Healthcare in Chapel Hill, NC and I was successfully treated. He taught me how to do it myself and if I feel it starting to come back I do the maneuver and get okay again.
It is a matter of a series of head positions that rearrange little crystals in the inner ear that have gotten out of place. No drugs are required, although antivert or otc meclizine (bonine) help with the nausea during the worst of a spell.
Get yourself to a doctor who is proficient in the Epley Maneuver right away. It is worth a try for sure and it is so simple.

Cutting out salt completely is not a wise step to take unless you are carefully monitored by a competent physician. Recent studies show there are definite problems associated with inadequate salt intake.

Oh do please STOP SAYING THAT BPPV CAN BE CURED! I’ve seen six or more medical doctors and two occupational therapists for my DIZZINESS and have dutifully taken all the pharmaceuticals that they have prescribed, as well as some homeopathic remedies – and STILL I HAVE OUT-OF-THE-BLUE bouts of debilitating vertigo, or whatever you want to call it.
I really don’t care anymore WHAT it’s called, I just wish you’d stop saying IT CAN BE CURED. The Epley manuever and there are others – the names escape me right now…..nothing….no relief. In fact, some forms of the Epley make the spinning & nausea worse.
The only thing that helps relieve my symptoms is ginger and even that doesn’t do it each time I have a bout. Just in my church and circle of friends there are numerous “old ladies” (I’m 72) who deal with this dread as best we can, silently for the most part.
Physicians HATE to see us coming because they have no clue what to do with us. And the “brain fog” after a bout lasts for days and is almost as debilitating as the bout itself. I have huge appreciation for People’s Pharmacy but I do wish you’d quit insisting that dizziness/vertigo can be cured!
Dear Rita,
We have never suggested that all cases of dizziness/vertigo can be cured by the Epley maneuver. What we have suggested, however, is that when a patient actually has BPV or BPPV (both are “benign positional vertigo”) brought on by crystals moving into the wrong ear canal, the condition is usually curable with the right maneuver. If, on the other hand, the dizziness is caused by something else, then clearly this maneuver will not work.
It is past time for you to be seen by someone who is highly skilled in diagnosing and treating your particular form of dizziness/vertigo. We would highly recommend Dr. Kaylie at Duke University Hospital. You may wish to listen to his one-hour interview on our website.

Had a bout w/ dizziness myself. Consider going to a chiropractor.
Also, if you wear glasses, contacts, or sunglasses, make sure they are high quality. For example, my every day eye glasses were a high quality, then when I wore my sunglasses, I would get dizzy because the lenses were cheap plastic.

Is it possible it’s not the salt but the iodine in the salt? Were you using iodized salt? I’ve suffered from a host of problems that all generated from poor thyroid function. I’ve changed my diet and I make sure I get adequate selenium to balance my iodine intake.
For the original questioner, what do you eat every day? It might be worth taking a look at your diet. Made a huge difference for me. Have you had your thyroid checked? Not just TSH but Free T4 and Free T3 as well. I had normal TSH and T4 but low T3. Since lowering my intake of iodine and increasing my intake of selenium, my T3 is now in normal range and I feel much better.

Could it be an ear virus called labyrinthitis

I am an 80 year old male with high BP. A couple of years ago I woke up in the night to go to the bathroom. As I got out of bed quickly I was VERY dizzy and bounced off two dressers, hit a wall and fell to the floor. I was not hurt.
My wife a retired nurse, checked my BP, high but not too bad. An ambulance took me to the ER, where I stayed 6 days. A doctor, with every specialty they had I think, checked me out. They didn’t find anything so they sent me home and to see my cardiologist.
His PA heard the story and said you need an ENT Dr. She sent me to one who had a machine that turned me upside down and rolled me around. After three rides on it totaling over an hour I was somewhat better, but not cured.
I had BPPV. The next time I saw a friend, who is a Physical Therapist, he said I can fix that and he did in 10 or 15 minutes. He has done it twice more since then when I felt a little dizzy.

I discovered my cure on my own after have gone through multi tests and no one finding the cause—I QUIT USING SALT
Since then I have had a recurrence if I get lax about eating salty foods.

Labyrinthitis also needs to be ruled out. Given the potpourri of medications listed I’d question the competence of those providing treatment. It appears that they’re each treating the same patient in their own little vacuum without communication.
And this “care facility?” She had a loaded revolver that a visitor noticed but no one employed by the facility had noticed? And how have her medical specialists missed this level of despair? Especially the psychiatrist?
Did/does she actually have hypertension? If all her “tests” have been “normal” why have they prescribed this cornucopia of poisons? What is it that they think are they treating with such a spectacular lack of success? And where does Glaucoma fit into all of this? Who’s paying for all this? Her insurance?
Could she have fallen into being the victim of an insurance scam?

I am wondering at the line “I am in excellent health” …… how could they be with all that medication. Is this depression, the ‘hopeless’ ‘when is this gonna end?’ condition? Sounds like it. I eventually helped mine by watching videos like Victor Borge and videos like Carol Burnette and Tim Conway shows. I made myself smile at the shows, I let myself laugh. Over and over I watched Victor Borge .. and know what? I began to break .. began to smile several times a day.. even chuckled once at Tim Conway. I actually made a chart and marked the smiles, the welling up for tears, and compared them. I WORKED and WORKED myself to smile. Nobody else gonna do it for you. If you want it to change, to get away from suicide, hopelessness, you gotta do it alone. At least that was true of me. And it worked, so far.

BPPV has worked for me, but I did have to do it three times a day for a while. It has come back briefly a few times. Each time I repeat the exercies. I’m so glad I learned about it from a friend before going to a doctor and being given all kinds of drugs.

I and my mother had issues with debilitating dizziness. She put salt on every thing, she cut out the salt and was fine. After her fix I determined what was causing my issues. Now I never add salt to anything and have not had a spell since. Hope this helps.

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