Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the forum topic “Multiple Sclerosis-related Vertigo: What Can You Do?” from Nov. 23, 2018.
About a year ago, I experienced a strange encounter with dizziness — while I was asleep.
It seems odd that one should feel dizzy while asleep. Yet there I was, feeling as if the world was spinning all around me.
At first, I thought it was an earthquake that awakened me. When I rolled over to get out of bed, I crashed to the floor, completely out of balance as the room continued to spiral.
I pressed my hands flat against my nightstand, then the wall, then the door, struggling to make a sideways path to my bathroom. Not only was I unable to “straighten up and fly right,” I was now feeling nauseated by it all.
The feelings subsided, but came and went a few more times until I finally called my MS specialist. A follow-up visit taught me two things.
Vertigo can be an MS symptom
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “These symptoms are due to lesions — damaged areas — in the complex pathways that coordinate visual, spatial and other input to the brain needed to produce and maintain equilibrium (balance).”
MS-related vertigo is a common problem. Recent research to address the challenges of identifying and monitoring MS-related vertigo suggests that using the vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP) test is one way to better view tiny lesions along the inner ear pathways, as MRI may not be sensitive enough to identify them.
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