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Dizziness, fullness in the ear
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Dizziness, fullness in the ear

Hi. I hope someone here can offer me advice because I am getting nowhere with diagnosing my condition. :(

In December of 2003 while I was at work, I started getting weird jolts running through my body that would happen maybe once an hour. I also started getting a kind of cold, numb sort of feeling on my scalp and numbness behind my left ear. I saw a doctor who offered no real explanation other than it may be stress related. In January 2004 I went on holiday to Florida. While I was there, the jolts seemed less frequent, so I thought maybe the stress diagnosis held some weight. I did notice however that I'd become extremely intolerant to alcohol - not that it made me sick, but I would feel drunk after one or two drinks.

I returned home and and went back to work. The jolts and numbness were still there, but I did my best to ignore them, although quite a few people commented asking if I was OK, because I looked very pale. In April I had root canal treatment done on one of my front teeth (don't know if this is relevant). On May 2nd 2004, I went into work at 6am as usual, but an hour later I stood up from my chair and was extremely dizzy. My eyesight was weird, almost like someone had shone a torch into my eyes. I thought maybe I'd stood up too fast, but the feelings did not pass, so I went home feeling quite unwell. I have not been back to work since.

I developed tingling and numbness in my left arm and hand which comes and goes. The dizziness has become a lot worse, as has my eyesight. I have a feeling of fullness in my left ear constantly, almost as if someone is pushing a pencil or something into it. The skin directly behind the ear is numb most of the time. I have had tinnitus for a number of years, but it's become a lot worse in my left ear. I developed lateral nystagmus also. Occasionally I have left sided weakness of the face, which is slightly noticeable. Sometimes my left eye looks like it's bulging out of my head a little more than the right. Also, sometimes my face twitches, especially around my mouth area. My previous girlfriend noticed this some years ago, but I was unaware of it and can't notice it when it happens. I also have what I would call a weak back. Quite often I'll bend over to pick something up and it will feel like I've trapped a nerve or something in the upper middle section of my back. Several times in the last couple of years I have also woken to find that one or both of my feet have swollen a little, but when I try and walk, the pain in my foot/feet is so chronic that it's impossible to take more than a few steps. The doctor said this may be tendonitis, although it would always appear on awakening and disappear of it's own accord a couple of days later. I also get short of breath quite easily and occasionally I get mild palpitations.

So far, I have had various treatments for dizziness and vertigo, none of which have made any difference. I have hypertension and am overweight and am currently on medication for that. I had a head CT scan and an MRI scan done which focused on my ear and the surrounding area. The results all came back normal. I've had various blood tests done too - one time the level of calcium was extremely low, but when I had another test done 2 weeks later it was back to normal. I had a hearing test done, where they removed a fair bit of wax from my left ear, but my hearing itself was totally normal despite the tinnitus. I saw a neurologist, who gave me some information on balance disorders and some exercises I could do. None of this has helped and things have become progressively worse over the last 15 months or so. I am virtually house bound. I'm 35 years old and I weigh about 220 pounds. I've not been able to exercise due to the dizziness and have put on weight and become unfit. I am due to go back and see my doctor in two weeks time. He is concerned because my blood pressure is extremely high, especially the diastolic figure which seems to hover around 110-120 and is unaffected by medication.

My doctor assures me that the MRI & CT results rule out an acoustic neuroma or tumour. No medications seem to have an effect either on my dizziness or my blood pressure. I saw a maxillofacial specialist again too, because several years ago I was getting bad headaches related to TMJ and at the time I was given a mouth guard to wear at night and the symptoms went away. I'd read that TMJ disorders may be severe enough to cause balance problems, numbness and even problems with vision, but the specialist I saw this time assured me everything is OK. I have been researching my symptoms as much as I can, but I've reached a dead end. I am literally at my wit's end and I don't know how long I can carry on living this way. I have become severely depressed. I know that inner ear disorders can affect balance and that can also have a knock on effect with a person's eyesight. The fullness in the ear and numbness behind it does suggest to me that something around that area may be the cause. Perhaps my blood pressure is high because I am so unfit now and I'm under great financial pressure because I'm unable to work? I don't know. Could it be some kind of circulation problem? Perhaps some kind of inner ear disorder? An extreme case of M
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The skin area behind the ear is innervated by the facial nerve (cranial nerve 7), and irritation of this nerve can also cause facial twitching. Irritation can be from a virus (usually the herpes virus) which can affect cranial nerve 8, the acoustic/vestibular nerve. This is called Ramsay-Hunt syndrome. There is usually a pustular rash though around the ear but not 100% of the time. An MRI focusing on the 7th and 8th cranial nerves can show evidence of inflammation if done with contrast/fat suppression - but you say you haev already had this done. It is otherise a clinical diagnosis, and active infection after this long may be unlikely. This is just a suggestion, based on what you have written. A course of an antiviral (like acyclovir) may be worth trying. Other causes of irritation include a blood vessel loop at the base of the brain compressing the nerve (seen on MRA or angiography) or a local meningeal process - after a normal MRI a spinal tap might reveal something.

The dizzuness is unclear but may not be a neurological problem - have your heart and autonomic system etc checked out also. Any problem with the vestibular system (from the neck muscle sensory receptors to the nerve cells in the brainstem) can cause dizziness/dysequilibrium. Again it is mostly a clinical diagnosis based on historical details and sometimes specialized vestibular testing in a few centers. Specialized vestibular physiotherapy is important to recover - find a place that does this.

The jolts could be from cervical disc disease irritating the spinal cord (Lhermitte's phenomenom) but other causes such as syphilis and B12 neuropathy should be ruled out also.

Of course, losing weight if you can is likely to make things a lot better for you. I hope I have given you a few pointers, although my advice is limited by just having the information in your post.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Steve -

Had the same thing.  Try talking to someone about anxiety, it's a possibility.  Also try exercise, it does wonders..
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for the replies. I thought about anxiety, because I used to suffer from bad panic attacks when I was in my late teens and early twenties, but I didn't think it could cause symptoms like this. The symptoms I'm having are constant and relentless.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,Steve,
I am in the maze of my similar symptoms and not getting doctors
understanding,only injections of Lypocaine (3) that numbed the sensitivity and recommendation to take antiseizure drugs,not even being sure about my diagnisis.
I,like you, stay mostly at home,estranged and deppresed:
on the top of dizzyness and   fullness in the ear only left side- and just behind ear where jaw bone meets skull
I have severe sensitivity to any air,aircondition or movement of air- and draft,plus  I can feel swelling -on the left side and top of skull and behind left ear, left eyebrow.
I had MRI-s in Kaiser,but Doctor didint request w/contrast,so it was Normal!!
I feel something is wrong right there but doctors ignore me now since Mri is normal...friends ignore me and I annoy them with sensitivity so I avoid them.I also have to wear a cap all the time. Only the cammomille steam inhalation releives acking pain.
In 2001 I had a car accident from left side-and I am positive that some tissue is pinched or fine vessels inflamed...

I just read  on this site (MS) that there is a latest MRI develpoed with high resolution -three dimens. T-1 (MP  RAGE )to detect MS-and maybe contrast MRI would show more leads or maybe is it Perilymphatic fistula in your ear?
Best luck,Ljilja
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