What can you do if your world is spinning?

If your world is spinning, it may not be because you enjoyed one too many wines for dinner.

What can you do if your world is spinning?

From the late 1960s through to the early 1980s, one of the stars of the AFL was a dynamic footballer Brent Crosswell. A four-time premiership player – twice at Carlton and twice at North Melbourne – Crosswell was athletic and exciting.

His life then and his life now couldn’t be further apart. For 27 years, Crosswell has been unable to leave his home state of Tasmania. He suffers from Meniere’s disease and, for much of those 27 years, he has simply rested on a couch, unable to walk, talk, read, write or even watch television.

In the words of his son, Sam, he was simply waiting for the end.

Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that makes the sufferer feel as if the world is spinning. It can also cause ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss.

For Crosswell, it was so severe that simply standing up was out of the question. He would feel unwell and lose balance.

There is much we don’t now about this disease. The cause is unclear and there is no cure. Symptoms are believed to occur as a result of increased fluid build-up in the labyrinth of the inner ear, and treatment is virtually limited to medications that reduce nausea and anxiety. The condition is believed to have genetic links.

For most people, Meniere’s disease comes in the form of regular attacks with vertigo being the major symptom.

Vertigo can vary in its impact, from feelings of dizziness to attacks so severe you can’t stand up and, if you try, you fall over. Meniere’s disease is the extreme form of vertigo and affects only one to two people in every 1000.

Vertigo is more common. It is often wrongly referred to as “a fear of heights”, but it is a symptom related to dizziness and a feeling that the earth is spinning. It can occur at any age, but is more common in people aged 65 and over, and can be temporary or long term.

The Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery says that self-reported cases of dizziness and vertigo exceed 36 per cent of Australians aged over 50 and that symptoms can lead to a complete loss of confidence.

 “Attacks are frightening, may lead to falls, and are often misinterpreted by those around them as intoxication,” the society reports. “These individuals, and those afflicted with other types of chronic imbalance, find that normal daily activities are difficult to maintain.

 “Simple tasks such as going to the shops may make sufferers feel unwell and cause considerable anxiety. These factors lead to social isolation, reduced productivity and high levels of anxiety and depression.”

While time and rest are the most commonly prescribed recovery methods, vertigo can be treated with drugs such as antihistamines to curb motion sickness and nausea, or steroids or antiviral drugs to combat inner ear infections.

Your health professional is your starting point if you have issues. And check in regularly to ask if there are any developments in the field.

Has dizziness had an impact on your life? What measures have you tried for relief?

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    COMMENTS

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    Colinus
    7th Nov 2019
    10:33am
    I to have Meniere’s disease, except for being very deaf and a constant ringing in the ears I have managed to keep it under control for the last 30 years. Neither of the two things I do are mentioned in your article. SALT FREE DIET, salt makes you retain fluid, and GINKGO BILOBA, increases the blood flow to the peripherals so in effect it helps clear the fluid from the ears. All I know is it works for me and I stay upright.
    musicveg
    7th Nov 2019
    11:34pm
    It may help to reduce or cut out dairy products too, increase leafy greens in your diet.
    heyyybob
    7th Nov 2019
    11:47am
    I also have Menieres and wouldn't wish it on anyone and have the greatest sympathy for anyone suffering from this horrible syndrome. I suffered 6 chronic severe attacks of extreme vertigo, over a period of a year, 34 years ago at the age of 46. After diagnosis and monitoring it was found that I was losing a percentage of frequency in my hearing (in the ear affected). I underwent a surgical procedure with startling results. The vertigo attacks ceased after one minor one, about 2 years later :) I live with continuous tinnitus which is nowhere near as bad as prior to my op and I have 'learnt' to 'ignore' it. I am SO grateful for the skill of the surgeon and the wonderful result of the procedure.
    Sparrow
    7th Nov 2019
    3:07pm
    I was diagnosed with Menieres disease 6 years ago and was told there was nothing that I could do I may get more attacks I may not. I did get more attacks in the beginning, but have learned to manage it through diet. This is not a particular diet but ensuring that you do not under any circumstances have MSG or Aspartame (these are the 2 major problems for me), in your diet. It is also helpful to avoid fungus and mould foods e.g. Mushrooms and cheeses. I rarely get an attack now and if I do it is generally minor as I avoid MSG or Aspartame like the plague, but sadly sometime you can get caught out as MSG especially can be an ingredient but not identified on the ingredients it may just be listed as a herb and regretfully in Australia this is allowed. Even businesses who do not use MSG may innocently use it unknowingly. Avoiding these things in my diet has simplified and changed my life.
    Hoss
    7th Nov 2019
    3:32pm
    I had my first attack of Meniere's about thirty years ago. The doctor prescribed SERC (one a day} and I have had very rare attacks since then and less severe than earlier attacks. I also tried to find out what triggered an attack and I found that a glass of beer was the probable trigger so I gave up beer. I would still love a beer but dare not have one again. I would strongly recommend SERC
    Midge 57
    13th Nov 2019
    3:01pm
    Yes, Hoss, SERC has saved me a few times when I've felt the dizziness starting. Strongly recommend - available on a doctor's prescription though.
    Hoss
    7th Nov 2019
    3:32pm
    I had my first attack of Meniere's about thirty years ago. The doctor prescribed SERC (one a day} and I have had very rare attacks since then and less severe than earlier attacks. I also tried to find out what triggered an attack and I found that a glass of beer was the probable trigger so I gave up beer. I would still love a beer but dare not have one again. I would strongly recommend SERC
    Jennie
    7th Nov 2019
    4:12pm
    My father had Meniere’s Syndrome and the best medication for him was Stugeron which has been an over the counter anti nausea/motion sickness medication since the 1970s in the UK. It is not available in Australia!! I buy it on the internet from the UK for motion sickness in my family here in Oz. It is brilliant and worked better for my father than SERC. My father was off work for a year and only became well when he went deaf in the affected ear. A hearing aid could not help as it's nerve deafness that happens not conductive deafness. However his tinnitus was permanent.


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