Vertigo

Published: October 22, 2012
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Vertigo can be very difficult to address — either by prescription or naturally.

Short-term vertigo lasting six weeks is most often viral labyrinthitis. It should be addressed within the first 3-4 days of onset with the medication prednisone (20 mg twice a day for 5 days to nip it in the bud). However, if it has been present for over a week, then prednisone is less likely to help and one needs to wait it out.

If vertigo has persisted beyond two months, an Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) physician should do a proper evaluation for chronic vertigo. The most common causes include things such as:

  1. A benign CPA tumor behind the ear (they will do an X Ray or a CAT scan or MRI of the head to rule this out).
  2. Ménière's disease. This is associated with increased fluid in the cochlea structures in the middle ear. ENT physicians are very familiar with the standard therapies for these.
  3. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is most often addressed with valium-like medications, which have the issue of addiction. ENT doctors are familiar with the standard therapies for these. If one has benign positional vertigo however, be sure that you ask your ENT or family physician about a special hat which often settles the vertigo. I first saw the research on this around 20 years ago, and although the results are unexpected, they were quite marked. They have now turned this into a special hat. Because it is cheap, most physicians have simply not been taught about it. For more information on this, see the "DizzyFix" description on Wikipedia. If the problem is BPPV or vertigo with no known cause (which usually turns out to be BPPV) I would recommend giving the hat a try.

The hat is not worn during the day but is worn once each day for a week to help you do what is called the "Epley maneuver." This retrains the balance center in the ears. That is often enough to knock out the vertigo long term, although you can repeat it if the vertigo recurs.

This hat will only work if one has BPPV and will not work for Ménière's disease, so you need to ask your ENT ear doctor to see what the specific diagnosis is. Your ear doctor would then also have to write a prescription for the Dizzy hat (sells for about $150).

In addition, get a good multivitamin that contains magnesium, B12 (500+ mcg) and B complex (50 mg+) — for example, a good multivitamin powder. In addition, the herb ginger can take the edge off the vertigo. This can be taken in capsule form, as ginger slices (like in sushi restaurants), or even as cubes of candied ginger (in Chinese food stores) which can be eaten a few times a day and helps symptoms. The medication Antivert is also worth a try.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of four research studies on their treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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