Was It Vertigo That Sent Me Tumbling the Other Day?
In the four decades I’ve lived with MS, I’d never before experienced a serious case of vertigo. I’ve occasionally felt a little spacey. In fact, mild dizziness while traveling home from a business convention is one of the things that led to my MS diagnosis in 1980.
But vertigo is more serious than being just a little dizzy. It feels like the world is spinning around you. For someone with multiple sclerosis, it can be caused by lesions in the parts of the central nervous system that affect equilibrium.
For 40 years, I hadn’t thought much about vertigo. Dizziness is a common MS symptom, but according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, vertigo is not. My balance has always been close to normal. During my annual neurological exam, I’m able to stand with my feet close together, hold my arms straight out, and close my eyes — you know that test — without teetering. It wasn’t until today that I experienced the serious spinning that I self-diagnosed as vertigo.
Uh, oh, down I go
I’d parked my mobility scooter and was about to head to where my car was parked, about 30 steps away. Before taking my first step, I bent forward at my waist to reach down to turn on my Bioness L300 GO, a functional electronic stimulator I wear below my left knee. Suddenly, the world spun. Despite holding a cane in each hand, down I went.
I take three or four spills a year, but they’re all because I trip on something or do something stupid, like trying to hold on to my scooter while goosing its throttle. But this was neither a trip nor a stupid slip. This was a spin.
I’m OK — no injury, no foul, but why today? What was different?
Maybe it wasn’t my MS
The U.K.’s National Health Service notes that an inner ear infection can cause vertigo. So can vestibular neuronitis, which is inflammation of the nerve that runs between the inner ear and the brain. Or, it might be a case of benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo, in which tiny calcium crystals collect in the ear and can disrupt balance signals that are sent from the ear to the brain. Multiple Sclerosis News Today columnist Tamara Sellman had that happen to her a few years ago.
Tamara solved her vertigo problem by using a simple procedure suggested by her neurologist, called canalith repositioning, which relocates those crystals from the inner ear to a different part of the ear, where they can be absorbed.
If my problem continues, I’ll contact my neurologist and see what she has to say. For now, I’ll bet this was a once-in-40-years occurrence, and since I’m almost 73, it won’t have an opportunity to bother me again.
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