Ear with crystals swirling around

Not Every Symptom is Parkinson’s

Last updated: May 2021

Having had Parkinson’s for a while, I am quite used to having new symptoms crop up as my disease progresses. My other health issues are fairly stable and I tend to blame everything new on Parkinson’s. Over time, it’s a weird version of “the boy who cried wolf”.

Vertigo-like symptoms

About three months ago, I started to have what seemed to match the symptoms of vertigo except my symptoms occurred when I went to bed. My previous episodes of vertigo many years ago all happened either when I stood up or moved my head in an odd way

Now, every time I laid down at night, I got all of the old vertigo symptoms plus my eyes seemed to flutter uncontrollably. Although it usually lasted for only a minute, the eye flutter was very disconcerting.

The best way to describe it was how one feels if they have imbibed a little too much, gone to bed, and turned the lights out. I knew it wasn’t alcohol as it has lost its taste due to Parkinson’s. Then, I began to have the symptoms at exercise when I moved my head a certain way.

Searching for answers

On the whole, it was rather scary as my mind raced. Of course, it went to an order of magnitude. Was it the worsening of my Parkinson’s or perhaps a brain tumor? Medical alarmism does run in my family.

I began searching on the internet by inputting my symptoms. After a few days of checking and rechecking, I believed I had my answer. No brain tumor. No worsening of my Parkinson’s.

According to my research, I have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is quite common and randomly occurs mostly in the elderly.

What is causing the dizziness?

The Mayo Clinic says that benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common cause of vertigo. It gives you the feeling that you're spinning. It can also cause a sensation, like the one I experienced, where it felt like the inside of my head was spinning.1

BPPV can lead to dizziness that ranges in severity. Actions that change the position of your head may trigger an episode of BPPV. This may include things such as lying down, sitting up, or tilting your head up or down.1

In general, BPPV is not considered to be serious but it can cause a risk for falls. Symptoms of BPPV include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and loss of balance. The symptoms usually only last a few seconds, but they may return.1

Inner ear problems

The vestibular labyrinth is the small organ within your ear that helps monitor the rotation of the head. There are also other structures in the ear, containing crystals, that are responsible for monitoring up and down movements, as well as back and forth.1

These crystals are what make us sensitive to gravity. They can also become dislodged. When they do, it can lead to the feeling of dizziness. This usually occurs in people age 50 or older.1

Correcting a simple issue

After significant worry and agitation, I find myself with a common inner ear problem. What does one do about it?  It turns out this is a bread and butter problem for ear, nose, and throat specialists (ENT). There are also ways to help one of the most common variations of BPPV at home.

I've been using the home Epley maneuvers and I’ve been symptom-free for a month. If your vertigo is continuous, disabling, or doesn’t respond to home treatment, you should seek medical help.

After having spent years dealing with a chronic disease, a not-so-serious and relatively simple physical issue to correct seems a breeze.

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