Learning To Deal With Vertigo!

I honestly had never heard of Viral Vertigo until it knocked me flat, literally, and my subsequent visit to my doctor enlightened me on the condition. I then knew exactly what is was, a very nasty virus that I didn’t want. Unfortunately, it didn’t want to let go of me and I battled it for quite a few years. I think I have it under control now because it has been sometime since I have had an episode, so I would like to share a few things that I did to help control/get rid of the problem.

I love the internet, had Google been around at the time I had viral vertigo, I would not have had to struggle so long on my own. Not that my doctor didn’t try to help, he just didn’t have all the answers or options that could have shortened the duration of the disease. I would like to share my experiences with the condition and some information from websites that I liked that shed a little more light on what the disease is.

A website called the International Center for Nutritional Research, Inc or http://www.icnr.com, in an article by Dr. Gerald H. Smith, divided viral vertigo into types.

“There are two basic types of vertigo: objective and subjective. Objective vertigo exists when the external world revolves around the individual. Subjective vertigo manifests when the individual perceives them-self revolving in space. Vertigo is a result of a disturbance of equilibrium. It can be caused by middle ear disease; cranial distortions, dental malocclusion; toxic conditions caused by aspartame, mercury poisoning, silicylates (aspirin), cocaine, alcohol or the antibiotic streptomycin; sunstroke; under-active adrenals, postural hypotension; or toxemia caused by such things as food poisoning or infections (viruses, bacteria or fungi)”

Another website http://www.vestibular.org, the Vestibular Disorders Association listed the types of vertigo a little differently:

“Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis are disorders resulting from an infection that inflames the inner ear or the vestibulo-cochlear nerve (the eighth cranial nerve), which connects the inner ear to the brain. Vertigo, dizziness, and difficulties with balance, vision, or hearing may result.

Infections of the inner ear are usually viral; less commonly, the cause is bacterial. Although the symptoms of bacterial and viral infections may be similar, the treatments are very different, so proper diagnosis by a physician is essential. Such inner ear infections are not the same as middle ear infections, which are the type of bacterial infections common in childhood affecting the area around the eardrum.

Neuritis (inflammation of the nerve) affects the vestibular branch of the vestibulo-cochlear nerve, resulting in dizziness or vertigo but no change in hearing. The term neuronitis is also used. Labyrinthitis (inflammation of the labyrinth) occurs when an infection affects both branches of the nerve, resulting in hearing changes as well as dizziness or vertigo.

An inner ear viral infection may be the result of a systemic viral illness (one affecting the rest of the body, such as infectious mononucleosis or measles); or the infection may be confined to the labyrinth or the vestibulo-cochlear nerve. Usually, only one ear is affected.

Symptoms of neuritis can be mild or severe, ranging from subtle dizziness to a violent spinning sensation (vertigo). They can also include nausea, vomiting, unsteadiness and imbalance, difficulty with vision, and impaired concentration. Sometimes the symptoms can be so severe that they affect the ability to sit up, stand, or walk. Labyrinthitis may produce the same symptoms, along with tinnitus (ringing or noises in the ear) and/or hearing loss.

The onset is usually very sudden, with severe dizziness developing abruptly during routine daily activities. In other cases, the symptoms are present upon awakening in the morning. After a period of gradual recovery that may last several weeks, some people are completely free of symptoms. Others have chronic dizziness, if the virus has damaged the vestibular nerve.”

My Vertigo appeared suddenly and without warning. I don’t remember even feeling sick but when it hit I had instant vertigo, falling on the floor with nausea, and throwing up. My doctor gave me the Antivert medicine but it really didn’t help and it made me drowsy. So not only did I have vertigo, but now I was too tired to do anything about it.

My first go round with vertigo lasted over 3 months and yes I was able to get around but driving was a hair raising experience because I never knew if I would have another sudden attack, also walking a straight line was very difficult. It finally disappeared and I thought I was free from it.

Now this is where I might sound a little controversial, but I really didn’t make this connection until my second bout of vertigo. I realized that my first episode happened 1 week after my very first flu shot, because the second episode appeared 1 week after my second flu shot only one year later. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Unfortunately the second episode became a rather permanent condition not like the first one. I couldn’t seem to get rid of it. It could appear when I was sick or just moving my head wrong. It was not a pleasant thing as anyone who has experienced it can tell you. I just didn’t know what to do. Finally, I talked to my chiropractor about it. He told me that the cochlear had probably detached and were intermittently playing havoc with the balancing sensors of the cochlear chamber. He had had the same condition and whenever he felt an episode of vertigo coming on, especially while driving he would pound his head hard against the head rest. That sounds so bizarre I know but it really worked. I was able to control the vertigo. He also had me really focus on one spot in the room whenever I had vertigo and not give into the urge to close my eyes but fight through the spinning until it stopped. This helped as well. It didn’t clear up the vertigo but it did help to control it. Finally, I was told about a great clinic on hearing and balance. They gave me exercises to do that I feel really helped me turn the corner. It was through constant repetition of those exercise that I feel finally helped me to be free of vertigo.

I will explain the the vertigo exercise in my next blog.


Asthma and Natural Solutions!

I have a great affinity for asthma sufferers in the world. I had asthma from when I was a very young child until my teen years. It was so severe at times that they put me in makeshift vaporizing tents to help relieve the symptoms. I couldn’t participate in a lot of physical activities because it would bring on an attack. I no longer have asthma, thankfully, but I learned a few things along the way and would like to share those tidbits of wisdom with you. I didn’t call this post natural cures for asthma, although I guess it has some components of that, but really it is more about learning how to control your asthma and easing the panicky feelings one gets, as well as some alternatives to inhalers and drugs.

It is hard to describe asthma to someone who has never experienced it. That panicked feeling of not being able to take in enough oxygen no matter how many times you take a breath. The inability to participate in activities because it might bring on an attack. It can be a frightening and debilitating illness. In fact, I get exhausted just remembering how hard it was trying to take a breath. I overcame asthma because of a wonderful country doctor. I think he was before his time. I have read articles since his passing that talked about the same treatment he used on me as if it were new material. I owe my recovery to his innovative ideas and my parents commitment to see that I followed his advice.

The first thing he had me do was breathing exercises. I know that sounds strange but it isn’t really when you understand what happens to someone with asthma. During an attack the air sacks in the lungs become filled with fluids, which cuts down on the capacity of the lungs to take in air. An inhaler opens the air sacks to help the fluid drain. Well these forced breathing exercises essentially do the same thing. I never used inhalers whether that was because he didn’t believe in them or they weren’t around I am not sure. I just know that my doctor had me blow a feather across a long table in one long drawn out breath. I would have to do this for 20 minutes everyday. (I did this for several years.) I remember thinking how mean he was because he would make me blow even when I didn’t think I had any air left in me. I even told my mother it was a stupid exercise because I couldn’t take in enough air to be able to blow out. However, that wasn’t entirely true because every time I blew the feather across the table in one long breath the next time I inhaled I could take in more air and blow the feather even further. I was eventually able to blow the feather the entire length of the table in one breath. Now this was very exhausting and would make me light headed but it did help me to breath better and I found as time went on that I could control my asthma whenever I had an attack. I simply had to stop what I was doing and do my breathing exercises and after a few minutes I could start to breath a little more normally. I never panicked after that because I knew I would be able to help myself breathe better and also be able to control it.

I know you are thinking why go to all that trouble and hard work when the inhaler would do the same thing. Well maybe my story will change your mind. Sometime after my last symptoms of asthma had disappeared I came down with an respiratory illness. I went to the doctor and during his questions I mentioned I had once had asthma. He decided to do a breathing test to make sure asthma was not contributing to my problems and to better know how to treat my illness. He decided to measure my lung capacity as well. Not only did I not have any lingering asthma symptoms but my lung capacity was that of an athlete. I know that was a direct result of those breathing exercises.

An article I read not long ago talked about the same kind of treatment for controlling asthma. The author/doctor suggested doing some of the breathing exercises upside down or lying on your back on your bed with your head hanging over the edge. He said that position during the forced breathing exercises would help that expelled fluid to drain more easily from the lungs rather than doing it in a standing position.
The next thing he did for me was to get me tested for allergies. I know that is common practice now but it wasn’t when I was young. What was even more amazing was how he figured out and treated what was really triggering my asthma. I know they don’t even do it anymore, that is if they have ever heard of it, because I have asked other doctors about it when my own daughter developed asthma. In analyzing the things I was allergic to, which were quite a few, he realized that my most severe attacks occurred when I was ill. He realized that the thing I was most allergic to was my own bacteria. He had the lab make up a serum using my own bacteria as the base along with some of the other allergens. For the next 10 years I received a shot once a week.

Radical? Inspirational? I don’t know what to call it, but I know it worked and it helped my own daughter as well. If it could help someone to not have to rely on drugs and inhalers so much wouldn’t it be worth trying? Well I guess that is for you to decide, but I hope you will think about it.


Artificial Sweeteners, at What Cost?

I just recently read an article in our local newspaper about the dangers of artificial sweeteners and felt it was an important subject to address. I have read a lot about the problems with these sweeteners and was interested in the study out of Purdue University that she quoted. It appeared in the February 2008 issue of Behavior Neuroscience by the American Psychological Association.

“It showed the results of tests on rats using yogurt with sugar and another with saccharin. Those given the artificial sweetener consumed more calories and ended up gaining more weight than the regular sugar group. Artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s natural ability to “count” calories based on foods’ sweetness. This finding may explain why increasing numbers of people in the United States lack the natural ability to regulate food intake and body weight.”

There is a lot of controversy on the use of these artificial sweeteners. The US regulatory body currently approves five artificial sweeteners, which it regulates as food additives. These are aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame-K, neotame and sucralose. Depending on what you read and from what source you have very differing opinions. Mainly from the Natural Health Food Industry and the FDA.

According to the National Cancer Institute there’s no scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States cause cancer. Aspartame does carry a cautionary note, however. It isn’t safe for people who have the rare hereditary disease phenylketonuria (PKU). Products that contain aspartame must carry a PKU warning on the label.

The first study done on aspartame said it increased the risk of urinary or bladder cancer. Subsequent studies have not found the same results. Also some studies have shown there to be a link between aspartame and primary brain tumours while others have shown no link. A study in England is underway to try to prove it one way or the other.
On the health food side of the scales many problems are mentioned along with urinary and brain cancer and weight gain. One of those is what they call excitotoxins meaning they excite the neurons in your brain to death or they kill brain cells. It is also mentioned that they give you things such as migraines, stomach aches, mood swings and insomnia.

One comment I read was from a researcher in a neuroscience lab. It mentioned that all artificial sweeteners break down in the body to toxic chemicals including formaldehyde. They mentioned that everyone that worked in that lab, now only use raw sugars, Stevia, and agave nectar.

It seems there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to prove one side or the other, but I always say if there is the slightest chance why take the risk. And the old saying of where there is smoke there is fire just might apply to the use of artificial sweeteners.

I hope I have given you something to think about.