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Chronic vertigo, head pressure, motion sensitivity

  I have suffered from this condition since I was an infant.  I am now 25,
  and still do not have a diagnosis, much less a treatment.  My symptoms are
  getting worse with time and now disrupt every aspect of my life.  The major
  symptoms are:
  - pressure throughout the head, especially between and just above the eyes
    and at the base of the skull
  - chronic vertigo, aggravated by head movement.  The vertigo is a feeling
    of non-specific motion, as if the room is gradually moving but I can't
    tell exactly which direction.  Sometimes feels like sensation one gets
    when a neighbouring car begins to move and you feel like you are moving
  - When turning my head, especially quickly, feel a "tugging" sensation at
    the base of the skull, accompanied by a wave of dizziness/vertigo
  - Head symptoms often accompanied by nausea and hot and cold spells
  These symptoms are present daily to varying degrees.  They seem to wax and
  wane somewhat over a period of weeks; recently though, "good" days have
  been few and far between.  I may bring on an incapacitating
  attack by over-exerting myself or moving my head too quickly.  The attack
  consists of EXTREME vertigo, nausea vomiting.  I become hypersensitive to
  movement (i.e. if someone lightly touches a foot it sets off waves of
  vertigo and vomiting) and light.  The attacks generally last 24 to 36 hours,
  during which time I am completely incapacitated and cannot even tolerate
  to be moved.
  During a recent attack I was admitted to hospital and given Demerol, gravol
  and a saline solution IV.  I was feeling better the next day than I have
  in the last several years, even though I have had the Demerol and gravol
  before, without major effect.  Could fluid levels play a role in this?
  An MRI (taken at the hospital when the symptoms were all but gone) was
  Primary inner ear problems have been ruled out.  Basilar migraine and
  migraine-associated dizziness have been suggested but pretty much ruled
  out now because of the chronic nature of the problem.
  Do you have any suggestions for possible diagnoses?  Is it possible that
  CSF pressure could be excessive and cause the symptoms?
  Thanks for any help you can provide!
Thanks for your question.  The vertigo symptoms mentioned in your message
are quite suggestive of an inner-ear/vestibular-organ disorder, however you
also mentioned that that hypothesis was ruled-out - may I ask how your
physician came to that conclusion.  In addition, a peripheral problem, such
as a disturbance of the semi-circular canals, is also the most likely one
to be influenced/improved by a hydration manuever as your mentioned in the
message.  Given the normal MRI scans, and the very prolonged time course
of your problem, it is less likely that the problem is located in the Central
Nervous System, such as a brainstem disorder.
If you live near the Cleveland area, the Department of Neurology at the
Cleveland Clinic has a neurologist specialized in vestibular/balance disorders,
Dr. Oas.  If you would like to make an appointment at the Dept. of Neurology
please call 1-216-444-5559 or 1-800-CCF-CARE.
I hope this information is helpful.  Best of luck.
This information is provided for general medical education purposes only.
Please consult your doctor regarding diagnostic and treatment options.

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