Ear Disorders Expert Forum
Chronic dizziness
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Questions in the Ear Disorders forum are answered by Dr. Eric Wilkinson. Topics include acoustic neuroma, skull base tumors, hearing loss, cochlear implants, stapes surgery, eardrum repair, chronic ear infection, facial nerve problems, childhood deafness, vertigo, balance disorders, and tinnitus.

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Chronic dizziness

10 years ago I began having very sudden, severe attacks of vertigo. I saw a neurologist who diagnosed me with BPPV after an MRI, MRA and EEG.  Over the years, they've waxed and waned, but I've gone years without having any. Last Nov/Dec I had three opthalmic migraines diagnosed by an opthamologist. Around Christmas I started having dizziness again. Not the severe attacks that I previously had but it was more a sense of being off balance or kind of "buzzed." And also unlike the previous spells which would last a few minutes, these would last hours - seemingly all day, with some days being better than others. I will have weeks at a time of this kind of dizziness. No nausea or vomiting.  I do find it a bit hard to focus my eyes while dizzy, but I don't have blurriness or dimming or any loss of vision. In the past few days, I've noticed my ears feel a little "full" and I have had some intermittant ringing in both ears, mostly in the right, but it's only happened a few times and it doesn't last and isn't severe. The dizziness does seem to have a positional component in that if I move around a lot or move my head a lot, it comes on. But it also comes on out of the blue while I'm being still.  I have also noticed an emotional component to it. If I get very emotional or upset I can get dizzy. For example, during a fight with my husband or when I get nervous, like if I need to give a presentation, or if I am startled it can trigger dizziness. Sometimes it happens if I laugh hard!  Again though, sometimes it seems to be brought on by nothing at all, and nothing I can do seems to make it go away - it just goes away on its own. I am seeing a neuro in 2 days and am nervous.  Could this be related to BPPV - would it change presentation like this or was I misdiagnosed 10 years ago? Would an inner ear problem be brought on by emotional stress? Or does that suggest it's only psychological? If it's an inner ear problem wouldn't the fullness and ringing have started earlier?
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Joannela,

Your symptoms do not sound like BPPV.  You have a number of nonspecific dizziness complaints.  You should see a neurotologist (ear specialist) who can examine you, perform an audiogram, and possibly do balance testing to determine the source of your problem.  Hope this helps.  Good luck!

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical
advice - the information presented is for patients education only.
Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your
individual case.
9 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
It sounds like BPPV. I would like to ask do you Have TMJ? Do you have problems with your jaw. TMJ can cause alot of problems check the internet go to neuromusculardentist and it will give you a list of symtoms (symptoms).It wouldn't hurt to check it out.
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152264_tn?1280358257
Actually, it sounds like "migraine-associated vertigo" is a much more likely possibility (although the earlier attacks certainly could have been BPPV). Google it. Not a lot of people, or even doctors, know about this, but there are many migraine medications you can try that might make a huge difference for you. Be sure to ask your neurologist about this--be sure to tell him/her everything you posted above, what brings it on, your migraine history, etc. You might even print out the following information to take in, in case your neurologist is not familiar with this condition:

http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/central/migraine/mav.html

That site is written by a highly respected neurologist specializing in dizziness.

Good luck! Keep trying until you find the right treatment! If you are diagnosed with migraine-associated vertigo, if the first medication doesn't work, there are many others to try.

Stress and anxiety are related to dizziness simply because of the way the vestibular system is "wired into" the fight-or-flight response. Those with chronic dizziness often notice that being startled or stress will increase their dizziness.

Nancy T.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you both - I actually don't know if I have TMJ.  I don't have any jaw pain, and I haven't ever been diagnosed with it.   I would love it if this were just TMJ or migraine - I am so concerned about brain tumors and MS, that I am beside myself.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you both - I actually don't know if I have TMJ.  I don't have any jaw pain, and I haven't ever been diagnosed with it.   I would love it if this were just TMJ or migraine - I am so concerned about brain tumors and MS, that I am beside myself.
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Avatar_n_tn
Wow! It sounds a lot like my symptoms. I am curious if you have the head aches that seem to radiate from the base of your skull also?
Please do keep us posted as I will with you. I trust it is just TMJ or BPPV..
Hang in there... I know first hand how it feels!
God Bless!
Donna
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152264_tn?1280358257
Please try not to let yourself stress out about brain tumors or MS. They are rarely the cause of dizziness--in other words, other causes for dizziness are MUCH, MUCH more likely, such as migraine and inner ear.

If you are seeing a neurologist and haven't had an MRI for 10 years, I'm guessing they will want to repeat the MRI, which will rule out tumors or MS.

(Although be aware that migraines can cause little "spots" on your MRI for which it's not always possible to say with 100 percent certainty that it's not MS; I have these little spots and was once all but told I had MS by a neurologist--even when my brain MRI was still read as normal--but many things can cause them--migraine, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some normal things in the brain called Virchow-Robin spaces, I think. However, I DID have numerous other symptoms that could have been due to MS, NOT just dizziness. I was never diagnosed with anything.)

I spent ten days between discovering that sudden hearing loss could be a sign of acoustic neuroma (inner-ear tumor) and getting my first MRI results in which I couldn't think about anything else, I was so worried. If I'd only known how remote were the chances of there being a tumor, I wouldn't have lost ten days out of my life! :)

Anyway good luck, I hope the neurologist is able to help you!

Nancy T.
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Avatar_m_tn
i have the same symptoms as you!  and i have had them for 3 years.  they also brought about anxiety and still do when i get severe vertigo....but mostly i get little spells and they still bother me.  i've been to a neurologist and they say my neurological signs are good.  my inner ear shows no signs of infection and i have had ENG testing and they say i have disequilibrium.  i wish i knew what was causing it.  i have taken minocycline in the past for about 1 year....for acne....five days after stopping taking it....i began feeling very floaty and very out of it. and here i am today..still having boughts....and i don't every want to take minocycline again.
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Avatar_n_tn
i have many times and never go away, when i wear my hairband and my ears are noise very bad, feel panic attack, headaches, i want to back normal again
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