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S8E13 Lauren.jpg


This week we have the pleasure of speaking once again with Lauren Ryan.  She joined our show previously and was more than happy to join us again to discuss a dizzying diagnosis: VERTIGO!  Vertigo is a symptom, rather than a condition itself. It's the sensation that you, or the environment around you, is moving or spinning.

This feeling may be barely noticeable, or it may be so severe that you find it difficult to keep your balance and do everyday tasks.

Attacks of vertigo can develop suddenly and last for a few seconds, or they may last much longer. If you have severe vertigo, your symptoms may be constant and last for several days, making normal life very difficult.

Other symptoms associated with vertigo may include:

  • loss of balance – which can make it difficult to stand or walk

  • feeling sick or being sick

  • dizziness

Vertigo is commonly caused by a problem with the way balance works in the inner ear, although it can also be caused by problems in certain parts of the brain.

Causes of vertigo may include:

  • benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – where certain head movements trigger vertigo

  • migraines – severe headaches

  • labyrinthitis – an inner ear infection

  • vestibular neuronitis – inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which runs into the inner ear and sends messages to the brain that help to control balance

Depending on the condition causing vertigo, you may experience additional symptoms, such as a high temperature, ringing in your ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss.

How is vertigo treated?

Some cases of vertigo improve over time, without treatment. However, some people have repeated episodes for many months, or even years, such as those with Ménière's disease.

There are specific treatments for some causes of vertigo. A series of simple head movements (known as the Epley manoeuvre) is used to treat BPPV.

Medicines, such as prochlorperazine and some antihistamines, can help in the early stages or most cases of vertigo.

Many people with vertigo also benefit from vestibular rehabilitation training (VRT), which is a series of exercises for people with dizziness and balance problems.

Self care

Depending on what's causing your vertigo, there may be things you can do yourself to help relieve your symptoms. Your GP or the specialist treating you may advise you to:

  • do simple exercises to correct your symptoms

  • sleep with your head slightly raised on two or more pillows

  • get up slowly when getting out of bed and sit on the edge of the bed for a minute or so before standing

  • avoid bending down to pick up items

  • avoid extending your neck – for example, while reaching up to a high shelf

  • move your head carefully and slowly during daily activities

  • do exercises that trigger your vertigo, so your brain gets used to it and reduces the symptoms (do these only after making sure you won't fall, and have support if needed)

(Credits...Scotland Natl.Health Info. System)

More About Diagnosis
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S9E20 Vertigo (1)


Lita T  00:08

Hello, and welcome to another episode of podcast dx. The show that brings you interviews with people just like you whose lives were forever changed by a medical diagnosis. I'm Lita Ron is not with us today.


Jean  00:22

And I'm Jean Marie.


Lita T  00:23

Collectively, we're the host of podcast dx. Our guest today is Lauren Ryan. I don't know if you remember Lauren was on our show recently with us. She has four siblings, whom she loves dearly. She graduated in 2011, and works at a community center. She's a social person, and very grateful for getting her story out into the world. She spoke with us on season eight, Episode 17, about Lysosomal storage disease. And today, we're going to be talking about vertigo.


Jean  01:00

 Hi, Lauren.


Lita T  01:01

Hello, Lauren. Thank you very much for taking the time to join us today. Can you start us out by telling our listeners what exactly is vertigo?


Lauren  01:10

Vertigo is a condition that affects the balance to give a person a sense of spinning, even when there is no motion involved?


Jean  01:24

It sounds like some it would be fun for a minute, but not for the lifetime.


Lita T  01:28



Jean  01:28

I like I used to like the dizzy kind of rides at amusement parks. And I guess the Mayo Clinic says that most people visiting with their doctor because of dizziness will first be asked about their symptoms and medications. And then be given a physical exam. And during the exam, your doctor, you know checks how you walk and maintain your balance and how the major nerves in your central nervous system are working. And you may also need a hearing test, a balanced test including an eye movement test, a head movement test, postural urography I don't even know what that is, and rot, a rotary chair testing that sounds like something some kids thought up like where you sit in a chair and they


Lita T  02:14

spin you in a circle


Jean  02:15

again, kind of sounds like fun. But Lauren, when did your symptoms star, and what testing did your healthcare provider do?


Lauren  02:23

Well, I get I get like vertigo every three years.


Jean  02:30



Lauren  02:31

So like, and it runs in my family


Jean  02:36



Lauren  02:36

 my mom's side of the family. So it's genetic....


Jean  02:41



Lauren  02:42

involved Because my mom has it,  my grandpa has it and my great grandmother had it.


Lita T  02:53

Wow.  Yeah. Okay.


Lauren  02:54

Yeah. It runs in the family.


Lita T  02:58

Okay. So they didn't really have to do any testing because you knew what it was?


Lauren  03:02

Well, I didn't know what it was at first. Because I was supposed to work. And that's actually the day I got vertigo symptoms, was the day I was supposed to work. So I called my mom. And my,  "I don't think I'm going into work today."


Jean  03:26



Lauren  03:28

It felt like the world was spinning around.


Jean  03:31



Lita T  03:32



Jean  03:32



Lita T  03:34

 So how does somebody get vertigo if it's not genetic?


Lauren  03:39

The most common causes of vertigo are inner ear infections or diseases of the ear or when calcium builds up in canals of the inner ear, also head trauma or Meniere's disease can cause it.


Jean  04:07

Okay. And actually, I think I saw on a TV show once.


Lita T  04:11



Jean  04:11

where someone had vertigo and the doctor ran into him at the grocery store on Thanksgiving and did something to try to dislodge the


Lita T  04:20

Oh, like a physical therapy movement.


Jean  04:22

yes, to dislodge the calcium buildup in the canal.


Lita T  04:24

Okay. Well, I've heard about Meniere's disease... Meniere's disease. what?


Jean  04:30

 I said I haven't


Lita T  04:31

Oh oh, Bob's Bob's. Second, Bob's better half Sue


Jean  04:38

Sue? Ohhh


Lita T  04:38

 No, she was worried that she had Meniere's disease,


Jean  04:41

Oh, okay.


Lita T  04:42

And that Meniere's disease results from an imbalance of fluid in the inner ear, which can cause periods of vertigo lasting from minutes to hours, and is frequently accompanied by fluctuating low frequency hearing loss. tinnitus, which we've talked about before, which is like a ringing in the ears. And it also can give you a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ears known as aural fullness. Was that something that your doctors were looking at as a possible cause of the vertigo?


Lauren  05:18

I don't think so. But they're saying it might be something to do with. Like, there was just background and my mom and grandpa and them having it


Jean  05:36



Lita T  05:37

Okay. All right.


Jean  05:39

And did you feel like um, did you feel like there was something stuck in your ears like that aural or fullness? That fullness?


Lauren  05:47



Jean  05:47



Lita T  05:48

No, just the dizziness. Okay, okay.


Jean  05:50



Lauren  05:51



Jean  05:51



Lita T  05:52

All right.


Jean  05:52

And I saw on a website called, that the vestibular system, which includes parts of the inner ear, and brain that helps actually control your balance and your eye movement. And if this system is damaged by like a disease, aging, injury, or illness, then vestibular disorders can result and are often associated with one or more of these symptoms. And then, they also mentioned that an issue with the system can cause a large variety of problems because obviously that balance in everything is a lot.


Lita T  06:26

Right. That's right, Jean. And do you want to go over that list of the problems that could be caused by which vestibule? I can't even say that word,


Jean  06:34

I know


Lita T  06:35



Jean  06:36

what, I vestibular


Lita T  06:40



Jean  06:40

system, yeah,


Lita T  06:41



Jean  06:41

we're gonna we're Yeah, we're gonna get through it though.


Lita T  06:44

All right.


Jean  06:46

So like there's dizziness and balance vertigo, brain fog, tinnitus, hearing loss, vision impairment, nausea. I would think if your, actually I haven't asked Lauren about that in a second, cognitive changes, sociological changes and motion sickness, did you feel nauseous or have anything like that? Because you know, dizziness is is kind of hard to deal with.


Lita T  07:07

Yeah. Did it make you feel like you were gonna


Jean  07:08

Queazy Yeah, like,


Lita T  07:09

you're gonna


Jean  07:10

be sick


Lita T  07:10

get sick.


Lauren  07:11

All I felt nauseous at first, but then that went away.


Lita T  07:17



Jean  07:17



Lita T  07:18

All right. And how long did the symptoms last? Like when you when you got it? Would it last for minutes or hours or days?


Lauren  07:26

It was a day.


Lita T  07:28

 Okay. Oh,


Lauren  07:29

I when I got it, I basically took some meclizine, do some exercises and then laid down for the rest of the day.


Jean  07:43



Lita T  07:44



Jean  07:44

Okay. And that's hard because even when you're laying down


Lita T  07:47

the room is moving


Jean  07:48

 as the room can be Yeah, and yeah, that that it's it's an unusual sensation Okay, and how is vertigo typically treated


Lauren  07:57

Most causes of vertigo, are readily treatable with physical therapy, medication surgeries and sometimes it doesn't respond to treatment and then they give it time to resolve. Since many types of vertigo go away without treatment,  initial evaluation by a general practitioner or family doctor is appropriate, early on, reserving specialty care for chronic cases.  If it doesn't get better, you may be referred to a neurologist.


Jean  08:52

Okay. Okay, that makes that makes sense,


Lita T  08:54



Jean  08:56

 And I read that video games can actually cause vertigo, too


Lauren  08:59

Well, three dimensional video games can cause a brief sensation of vertigo, but it would not continue for long. And it doesn't cause medical problems that needs to be treated.


Jean  09:18



Lita T  09:19

so it's kind of like if you're on a ride,


Jean  09:21

right? Like you get off the ride, it stops...


Lita T  09:23

goes away, right?


Jean  09:24



Lita T  09:24

That's not a medical condition. Okay, so it's not like video games cause it


Jean  09:28

right, it's just sensitization,


Lita T  09:30

right. Lauren, how common is vertigo


Lauren  09:35

is is extremely rare, but not impossible for young children to have vertigo. It's become became become more common in the early 20s and affects all ages commonly after that.  It's consequences however become more substantial as you get older because loss of balance in the elderly commonly leads to major fractures.


Lita T  10:16

That's dangerous


Jean  10:17

Like hip injuries like hip fractures.


Lita T  10:19

Right, So if somebody that's older, you


Jean  10:21

you have to be more careful.


Lita T  10:22

Yeah, they have to be careful.


Jean  10:24

Sure, And Lauren, like, when did you what symptoms first made you realize that something was going wrong? And was it like first thing in the morning? Or did it like build up slowly? Or was it all of a sudden,


Lauren  10:38

it was all of a sudden  what I was doing, I was in the bathroom getting ready for work. And all of a sudden it hit me.


Jean  10:51

Okay,  and that's a dangerous place to have it.


Lita T  10:53



Jean  10:54

yeah. Okay,


Lita T  10:55

good thing you didn't fall.


Jean  10:56



Lita T  10:57

Lauren, I heard that. mental stress can make many forms of vertigo worse, but will not by itself, produce vertigo. So it is important. If you have vertigo, that you should try to remove stress from your life. What do you do every day to limit or reduce stress in your life?


Lauren  11:21

Well, I think listening to music can help. And also listening to a good podcast like PodcastDX .


Lita T  11:35

we (laughter)


Jean  11:35

 This is why you're one of our favorites.


Lita T  11:37

(giggling) We did not pay her to say that.


Jean  11:39

No one of many reasons why Lauren's one of our favorites.


Lita T  11:42

Thank you so much.


Jean  11:44

 And, Lauren, what role have your friends and family played in your health care journey?


Lauren  11:49

Well, once again, it helps to have a mom that's a nurse and there, that knows like what to expect when you get something like vertigo, it's helpful to like call her or  whatever. To see what's going on. I had no idea. What was going on?


Jean  12:17

Sure. Yeah. It's a weird feeling.


Lita T  12:19

Right? That's for sure.


Jean  12:20



Lauren  12:22



Lita T  12:23

 And what's the best advice that you've received for coping with a rare disease like vertigo, and what advice would you give to somebody who was recently diagnosed with vertigo?


Lauren  12:36

I would say for somebody that is recently diagnosed with vertigo, Stay calm. And so don't freak out. No need to get even more worked up.


Jean  12:57

Okay. Okay. Okay.


Lita T  12:58

Yeah, I guess you know, if you do look things up on your own, sometimes you can go down a rabbit hole, and it's and end up with the...


Jean  13:06

 It'll probably show you the worst. Possible.


Lita T  13:07

worst possible. Yes, yes


Jean  13:09

Yeah. And your mom is probably a better go to.


Lita T  13:12



Jean  13:13

 for sure.


Lita T  13:13

That's for sure.


Jean  13:14



Lauren  13:15

So I figured out the only thing that works for me, is called a tilt table. And in the doctor's office, like a specialist for vertigo.


Jean  13:33



Lauren  13:34

So I think as I've said, again, the thing that will help you get over it, like when they reset the controls in your ear, and you're like,


Lita T  13:45

Oh, that's like a physical therapy movement. Right?


Jean  13:47



Lita T  13:48

They kind of, they're moving your head back and forth. right


Jean  13:52

 And now the tilt table, they can adjust and


Lita T  13:54

they can adjust how much you're upside down. And, yeah, because you think that your inner ear is not that important, but it really is. And, and that's the only way you can move things around. You can't reach in there and do it. So you have to actually move your body in different positions. Right, right.


Jean  14:15

And was that was that a was it painful at all?


Lauren  14:20

No, it felt like, at first it felt like dizzy.


Jean  14:26



Lauren  14:26

like I doing it, but then it kind of weird, but then it got better for a couple of days.


Lita T  14:38

Okay. Okay. And how often did you have to have that, that therapy?


Lauren  14:45

I think we've done two times so far.


Lita T  14:49



Lauren  14:49

 Because I've been there together like every three years for now or longer


Jean  14:58



Lita T  14:59

I forgot to ask, what, how old were you when this first started?


Lauren  15:03

Ummm I think I was in my late teens, like maybe 19 years old.


Jean  15:09



Lita T  15:10



Jean  15:10

So right. Like you had said earlier in the, you know, your 20s are kind of the prime time.


Lita T  15:15



Jean  15:15

So you were you were right in there. Okay


Lita T  15:18

 Is it? I wonder if it's something that maybe if you know what's going to happen every three years if they can I wonder if they could


Jean  15:25

do it in advance?


Lita T  15:26

Yeah, in advance, go and have the therapy in advance to kind of get things balanced inside.


Lauren  15:32

I wonder if they could do that, too. I will have to ask.


Jean  15:37



Lita T  15:37



Jean  15:38

Yeah. Yeah. To move the crystals. It. I think it's amazing that that happens. And how it makes me wonder who first figured that out?


Lita T  15:46



Jean  15:47

And who first figured out how to treat it?


Lita T  15:49



Jean  15:50

Because that's it's a weird,


Lita T  15:52

 it's like a microscopic inside of your ear thing. And


Jean  15:55

yeah, and they realize, Oh, well doing this helps. Yeah, that's amazing. Well, Lauren, I think that about wraps up our episode. It's always a pleasure to speak with you. And we're so happy to hear from you again.


Lita T  16:08

And I'm glad you're back to work.


Jean  16:09

Yes. That's wonderful. That's absolutely wonderful because the community needs you.


Lauren  16:14

Yeah. Thank you.


Lita T  16:16

All right. Well, if our listeners have any questions or comments related to vertigo, they can contact us at podcast through our website, podcast, dx Com. We're also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Jean  16:33

And if you have a moment to spare, please give us a review wherever you get your podcast. As always, please keep in mind that this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. And before undertaking a new health care regime, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you've heard on this podcast


Lita T  17:00

till next week.

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