10/15/07 #5 - Vertigo, nausea, and headache?

Health Professional

Full Question:

I am recovering from my fourth bout of vertigo, the first three years ago, and the last three within the last 12 months. (I am an athletic tennis player and musician just turned 70, having just had a perfect physical) Each time the vertigo is triggered by being on my back doing sports exercises and turning my head to the right at just a certain angle. Suddenly everything spins and I have to get into bed where I will spend at least four days. The first phase is about 12 hours of nausea, not able to turn my head even slightly without vomiting. After a few hours of this, a terrible headache comes onto the right temple.

Then when the nausea leaves, the headache is almost worse than the nausea and lasts for two to three more days. I have had the headache before, maybe twice a year, without the vertigo, but never the vertigo without the headache. Recovery requires me to stay in bed until about one week has gone by and my full equilibrium restored. Is there a medication that I can safely take that will prevent the whole experience. I just take Aleve for arthritis. Aspirin seems to help the dizziness but Meclazine does nothing. Diazepam puts me to sleep. Also is a diuretic ever prescribed in this case? I have had my hearing checked. But during the episodes I hear a lot of 'whining' sounds in my ears, background noise one might say.

I would appreciate any information, since these episodes stop me in my tracks and make normal life impossible for the duration.

Thank you very much for your time, R.K.


Dear R.K.;

I am not a otolaryngologist, but your symptoms sound like cases I have seen where a suspected dislodgement of a calcium carbonate crystal from the inner ear otolith apparatus was the likely culprit. I'm not sure if there is any specific testing for this. Often, a clinical examination can reproduce the symptoms nicely (using a Dix-Hallpike maneuver). Treatment is marginal at best, but I have had folks try an inversion table for 15-30 minutes per day, with relief.

Good luck,
John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert

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