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Avatar universal

Inner ear virus or is this something else?

First off I would like to apologies for the lengthy post, my problems began over 4 weeks ago when I experienced a sudden onset of dizziness which I could best describe as a swaying motion and unsteadiness/loss of balance - this lasted a few minutes and then settled down.

I experienced this sudden onset again the following afternoon which again lasted a few minutes and then dissipated, feeling shaken up afterwards, I dedicated to head home and sleep it off.

I awoke the following morning with a churning stomach, diarrhea, fatigue  and a diluted version of the "swaying" dizziness - best described as the feeling you would receive if you were on a boat, or there was some sort of internal movement. My balance was also affected by this and the next few days it persisted.

After several days passed, I began to start worrying something was not right, so I booked a doctors appointment and was told this sounded like a case of labrynthitis and should disappears within a week or so.

For the next few days the swaying sensation began to increase in severity to the point I was unable to get out of bed for much longer than a few minutes without having to go back and lye down. My balance was seriously affected at this point and although I didn't feel like I was going to fall over, It felt as if I was being pushed from different angles when I was walking which forced me to hold onto doors, radiators to keep my balance.

I also began developing what I would describe as very intense panic attacks, in where I was physically unable to relax myself. For the next week or so my heart my consistently racing heavily. I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder many years ago - but I have never experienced fear and panic this intense before.  My left and then a few days later my right ear felt blocked, with a constant urge to "pop".

The most intense feelings seemed to disappear after the next three to four days, and I have had several days feeling somewhat like "my old self",  only to awake the following morning feeling off balance again. From that point onwards it has seemed to follow a one "good" day then "bad" day.

During this time I also developed a serious tension headache which has now developed into sore points on my head, particularly the top of my head and the left and right points off the back of my skull.

I went back to the doctor who performed several neurological tests, a hearing test and ordered some blood tests and a urine sample. Both the urine sample and blood tests (including thyroid) came back clear. Upon checking my ears the doctor mentioned there was a large amount of wax build up and he was unable to see inside my ears, so prescribed me some ear drops - which I have been applying daily. I have now being referred to an ENT specialist, although my appointment is not until October (I live in the UK - and must rely on the NHS).

I am still in a one day on and off sort of scenario, unable to get much sleep - regardless of how tired I am. The headaches are still persistent, and seem to last the entire day - moving around different areas. I also experience some shooting/stabbing pains periodically throughout the day which are not particularly painful but uncomfortable.
I still have a constant feeling of motion - although not as intense, it is extremely difficult to relax with the constant sensation of movement. Straggly when I sit on the floor it feels asif my feet are "spinning" although there is no visual spinning. I have also received this sensation on several occasions when I close my eyes, asif my head is spinning around in circles.

My moral is slowly being deliberated by these problems, particularly due to the changeability of the symptoms on a dilly basis. And how I can feel like I am improving one day, only to awake and find the symptoms have return the next. I am unable to go to work still, and start university in less than 4 weeks time.

Can anybody here related to this experience? I am unsure what to feel at the moment as after researching inner ear conditions this does not feel like the typical case, although I did have a cold a few weeks prior to the onset, and a lot of thick congestion in my sinuses. The doctor mentioned the wax build up -  I am unsure whether this could be a direct cause for all these problems - it certainly seems unlikely to me? Particularly the way the symptoms wax and wane so randomly.

I am unsure whether this could be in any way related to dental problems, I had a root canal with a post core and cap a few days prior to the onset of everything. But I do have several upper teeth that I need removed, as I have had intermittent problems with abscesses. The only reason I mention dental work is because I felt a rocking sensation after a tooth abscess a few years ago which lasted several days then disappeared.

I never found out the cause of the rocking sensation but presumed it was related to the inflammation in some way, leading me to believe whether all these symptoms could be related to TMJ?

I appreciated anyone who has taken the time to read my experience, I know its a long post - and some may not be relevant but I am really at wits end what to do right now and just need some answers, which seems like a losing battle at the moment.
4 Responses
299912 tn?1341623100
Well, so far it seems as though everything your doctor has said makes sense. However, the one thing that I missed is the correlation between anxiety, panic, and vestibular disorders and cycle it may, nay does, cause for most folks.

I took have GAD and have for years and year. Additionally, I have vestibular disorder, though not labrynthitis. I have BPPV (benign positional vertigo) that "flares up" from time to time. However, from what I know about labs, it sounds like that may very well be what has been causing your issues and labs sometimes takes quite a while to heal from, so an ENT visit makes sense. BPPV for me (when I am having a episode) causes sudden intense spinning sensations and visual hallucinations (of the room spinning, etc.) but ONLY when moving my head (i.e. positional) and it is always unilaterally worse - one side is worse than the other. However, during these episodes, even if I am not spinning, I still feel off balance and woozy.

Now, onto the anxiety aspect of it. Did you know that the number 1 symptom of any vestibular disorder (besides the spinning, off balance, etc.) is anxiety (very often, extreme)? So guess what a major symptom of panic and anxiety is? Feeling off balance and dizzy! So, as you can see, you could be stuck in a vicious cycle here and leads you to the horse/cart chicken/egg situation.

But, the good news is that one of the main meds they give ppl with vestibular disorders are benzo's (i.e. valium, xanax, etc.) because they desensitize the vestibular mechanisms in your inner ear.

So, while it ***** and is scary at times, don't get down. It sounds like you are doing everything right, and are on the right path. The only thing that I suggest is to see a psychologist or psychiatrist and get a doctor to prescribe you a benzo to help with both the anxiety and the dizziness.

I hope that helps!

Avatar universal
Thank you for the reply Mike it is much appreciated. I do strongly agree that anxiety is making the situation worse, because when I start to feel anxious my balance starts to lock up, although this is strange as I have never experienced balance or dizziness issues with anxiety before, mainly just depersonalization and derealization auras, and pending doom type feelings. I have been trying to face the situatations so I dont get trapped in a vicious cycle - although it is sometimes easier said than done.

If it is infact a vestibular disorder such as Labrynthitis, I suppose the most difficult ascept is the lack of any cure or quick way out of this - other than waiting for it to go away. Do you think these constant swings and roundabouts are signs of healing, or just signs that something is preventing me from moving forward?

I really want to get back to work and be fit to start my degree, and the days where I am feeling better, like yesterday for example - make me thing I am well on the way to recovery. However, today I feel absolutley awful, loss of balance and woke up with a headache + probably about 4-5 hours sleep!

I'm sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel but it seems to be fading in and out a lot at the minute - being frightened in your own home and having no place to feel safe is very uncomfortable.

299912 tn?1341623100
Well, the thing about anxiety is that the longer it goes the more focused symptoms occur. What I mean is that perhaps before you did in fact have some minor to moderate off-balance feelings, but you did not ever focus on them then, but now they are more prevalent. This is the crappy thing about anxiety and why it is sometimes hard to heal completely from it. From what I know about labs, there is treatment but it can take quite awhile to heal and vestibular rehabilitation (yes there is such a thing!) is key to being able to deal. If it is something like BPPV, then there are special maneuvers that can be done that can actually almost instantaneously alleviate the issues.

The best advice I can give you is that the ENT is the next best step. So then you just have to figure out what to do in the meantime. There is lots of info on vestibular disorders online and can help with some coping skills. I would also try to go to your regular doctor as soon as possible and talk with him/her about some sort of benzo to help you cope. Also, and most importantly, realize that this is only uncomfortable at best and is not a serious illness. Be thankful for that and hold out hope that this is not a rare disorder and there are loads of ways you can deal with it!

Avatar universal
Hello and hope you are doing well.

Your problems of dizziness could be due to persisting Labyrinthitis. It could also be due to Meniere’s disease, which  is a condition in which there is an excess of fluid in the inner ear. But this is likely to cause persistent tinnitus and maybe hearing loss along with dizziness. Meniere’s disease is a condition in which there is an excess of fluid in the inner ear. The excess fluid disturbs the ear’s balance and hearing mechanisms and causes tinnitus, dizziness and deafness. Medications such as Valium and Compazine. are prescribed to decrease the severity of the symptoms. Please discuss this with your doctor am sure he will provide further assistance.

Hope this helped and do keep us posted.
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