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get upset if she feels low post an attack. Very tense & edgy when am with her. My mother is 59 years old and has been suffering from BPPV (positional vertigo) since the last 6 years. The episodes of dizziness are not very frequent and just lasts a few seconds to less than a minute.

Hence 3 months back we visited a neurologist who put her on balance and gait exercises. While doing these exercises her feeling of dizziness increased and a month back she got recurrent severe episodes of vertigo (room spinning sensation) which made her stop doing the exercises (not sure if the neurologist suggested wrong exercises ??)

That has made her very anxious and fearful of her next attack - it was also the same time I left my job and started taking care of her. She is always in anticipation of her next vertigo episode and I also have silently started worrying about it (although I keep encouraging her and ask her to be positive and more accepting of her disorder however it does not seem to work with her).

She has become overtly dependent on me and I have not left the house for the last 2 weeks - am feeling depressed and am most often in a fear mode around her (not sure why ??)

There was a time when I used to love spending time with her but now quite scared to be around her (she is basically an anxious person and guess it has rubbed off on me).

Another thing I have noticed is that I am obsessed about her condition and literally spend the entire day browsing the net to get more information about vertigo and treatments. I just cannot help myself !!

Please let me know what I should do as not sure how to help myself.

Can you please review and assist.

Thanks a ton, savita

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Hi Savita,
You're very smart and already pinpointed your own problem. It’s doing something about it that baffles you.

You and your mother are in a self-perpetuating cycle of worry and anxiety and that needs to be broken. I would definitely check with the neurologist about the exercises and why your mom got worse. However, the anxiety she has worrying about another attack, while natural, is likely making her more prone to an attack. Her anxiety makes your anxiety worse and your anxiety makes hers worse.

I'd suggest that you find time to see a counselor who can help you sort this out. You won't get better sitting around with her, obsessing, and waiting for another attack. That isn't good for either of you.

If there is a support group for people with this issue, or just people with anxiety issues (since you are both having problems with anxiety), you may benefit from that group, as well. However, I do feel that this is one instance where the only way to break the cycle is professional, one on one help, at least for a few sessions. Your health - mental and physical - will continue to worsen if you don't find a better way to cope. You want to help your mom, but you need to help yourself to do so.

Take care and good luck,
Carol
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Savita, I understand why your mother feels so frightened of these attacks. They are frightening and sickening. It sounds like in her case they are self limiting, though. I don't know about the exercises for the vertigo. The procedures done by physical therapists often trigger dizziness, but that is just part of it. The therapist is there to help. I wonder if doing PT would help her. First, it would get her out of the house among people. Second, it would put her in contact with someone who deals with such problems and can give reassurance. Third, it will give you a lot more information about how to handle things.

I have had bouts of panic disorder, so I understand the anticipatory anxiety. I can understand how hard it is to get out, but your mother needs to do it or she will become housebound. She might need a mild sedative, e.g. Xanax, for a short time as she gets out and about again. When I was going through panic disorder and making myself get out, I adopted a motto "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Telling myself that made me feel a lot more brave and focused to do what I knew I had to.

I hope your mother can get less afraid of the spells. I don't think we can ever get used to them, and they do make us feel a bit sick even after they pass. But if your mother trusts that they will end soon and will not kill her, she may be able to deal with it better. I guess a huge fear when vertigo is happening is: What if this never ends? Your mother's history says it will, though, so I hope she'll be able to trust herself soon.
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Anxiety is contagious, and anxiety triggers the BPPV attacks. You are both caught in a loop. I think I would start by getting YOU some anxiety medication, so you can stay calm in the moment of crisis. For mom, I would look for ways to dissolve the calcium crystals in her ear. If she is taking a calcium supplement I would get rid of it. Vinegar helps dissolve calcium and so does cherry juice (eat fresh cherries, avoid artificially flavored extracts). Magnesium is often suggested, but too much magnesium will give you diarrhea, so be very careful with that. I would avoid taking magnesium orally, and limit myself to just a warm Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) compress or add it to bath water. Regular checkups with an ENT are in order to avoid wax buildup, too.
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pstiegman, I don't think we want to dissolve the crystals, only to get them to stop sticking in the wrong places and sending faulty signals. That is the point of the PT, where therapists have the client lie on her back, then turn the head. Sounds simple to most, but these things can be terrible to someone with inner ear problems. I don't know if savitashankar's mother's problem involves the otoliths in her ear, but anxiety relief and PT are often very effective in treating.
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That sounds so much like me when I'm having bouts of dizziness. I have a good side and avoid lying on my back. A bout will usually pass in a couple of days.

Everyone has otoliths. They are like little pebbles inside our inner ear. They move as we move and rest on "hair cells" of the ear. This sends messages to the brain about how our head is oriented in space. The trouble happens when the otoliths start sticking to the wrong hairs in the ear. The eyes tell us we're oriented one way, but the ears give a different message. It makes us dizzy -- kind of like the game we played spinning around as children until we baffled our sensing mechanisms (eyes & ears). As people age, the inner ear often doesn't work as well. PT can help if the dizzy spells keep coming. The PT is aimed at positioning the otoliths and working with the brain about the signals being received.

You know your mother, so you know what might help her anxiety best. Probably most people are not hypnosis-prone, but your mother may be. One good thing about hypnosis is that it does teach to relax. Relaxation exercises are good for anyone. Something you do want to avoid with your mother is agoraphobia. Once it sets in deeply, it can be hard to work through it. Work with her MD or therapist to see what he/she thinks is the best way to deal with the anxiety.
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try this site...soundmind there is a TON of info that helps tremendously. You have to navigate through several different topics, but it is worth the time. Its helped me understand my "what if" thinking and helped me slow it way down. God bless you and your mama. Hang in there, youre going to ok.
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I should clarify-- yes we all have otoliths, but overgrowth or malformation can cause BPPV, even in FISH. In fish, the culprit was a lack of antioxidants, especially vitamin C.
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wouldn't let me add the .org
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pstiegman we did go to a neurotologist who indicated that the problem with my mother is to do with having medications for dizziness for a long time (she was on Vertin and Dizzirone for close to 6 years) so her ear balance system seems to be sedated. He did suggest a few neck movements to enable restore the natural functioning of the ear balance system. But he clearly stated that he is not able to pinpoint the exact cause of these dizziness episodes (room spinning or self spinning sensation). Apart from VRT, are there any techniques or diet that could help manage her condition.

Thanks a ton...
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Dear Maryanne, can you please provide the link to the site soundmind - there are several that come up in the search so need to be sure I have the right one :)
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