I feel a little better now after experiencing a vertigo attack last month for the first time in my life. November 26th after lunch, I went to the bathroom to wash my hands and when I looked down to splash water on my face, I suddenly felt intense dizziness coming from the right side of my head. Thinking it was just one of those you get from standing up too quickly, I brushed it off. I haven’t been getting enough sleep for the past couple of weeks so I figured maybe that’s the reason. So I took a nap and hoped to wake up feeling fresh.
But holy water, I felt horrible. I was on my left side when I woke and as I turned to get out of bed, the spinning sensation got exponentially worse. I sat on the edge of our bed waited for the dizziness to stop and it sort of did while I was sitting straight. However, when I looked down to find my slippers, the spinning started all over again.
Vertigo Attack: Queasy
I got really worried at that point. What’s happening to me? I had one hand on the wall for support and one hand on the side of our bed, my head was down, eyes closed. I probably stayed in that position for a minute before managing to sit up straight and standing up. Still feeling groggy, I noticed that the spinning wasn’t as bad if I don’t move my head at all.
The realization came a bit late as my stomach tapped out and I threw up. I felt slightly better after and even got some work done that night without taking any medication. And then I remembered my mom deals with vertigo at least twice a year. So I told her about my dizziness and it didn’t even surprise her. Because it is what it is – a vertigo attack. She has a prescription to manage her vertigo attacks though.
My mom advised me to consult a doctor but I didn’t hehe. Instead, I Googled if there’s an OTC drug I can try and came across sources that say antihistamines help manage the symptoms. We have Claritin in our medicine box so I took one and it seemed to work for an entire day. Evening came and I felt a headache about to happen so I Googled if it’s okay to have Claritin and Advil in your system and the internet says it’s fine.
So I took an Advil. After about 30 minutes, I felt the vertigo dizziness slowly coming back and I figured maybe Claritin’s effect was starting to wear off. I didn’t take any more Claritin as my headache that needs Advil was my priority at the time. I went to bed, the following day I got up and felt less miserable compared to day 1 of my vertigo attack.
Still feeling dizzy, I looked up another OTC drug to try and I learned that motion sickness meds like Meclizine HCl are used to treat vertigo symptoms as well. As a kid, I used to take Bonamine before long travels since I couldn’t stomach motion sickness in air-conditioned buses. So I didn’t hesitate to give Bonamine a shot. And it worked until the next day.
Vertigo Attack: Maneuver
It was at this point that I also discovered all sorts of maneuvers to get rid of vertigo. The first thing I tried was the (Foster) half somersault maneuver even though it felt like my head was going to pop due to all the blood rushing to my head. I did it before bed, woke up the next day and the dizziness was barely noticeable.
I thought I was in the clear, went right back to watching Netflix after work, eating whatever I want and ignoring my water intake. Trying out antihistamines left me with a sour taste in my mouth and it felt dry especially in the morning, which means I’m dehydrated. I paused taking Bonamine for 2 days to allow my body to rehydrate. I even powered on my good ol’ humidifier. All’s well. Also, I switched to the Brandt-Daroff exercise which is milder than the Foster maneuver.
And then I considered looking into supplements because my vertigo attack could be due to vitamin or mineral deficiency and I’m not taking any. I bought Stresstabs, which I used to take in my early 20s so I thought no harm if I take it again. The quality of sleep I’m getting during my first week of vertigo was terrible. My husband’s snoring was extra annoying than usual. Stresstabs help me sleep better compared to Melatonin and I need some premium quality shut-eye.
I had Bonamine in my system when I took one Stresstabs tablet on December 7th. That night, I slept with two pillows under my head. When I got up the following day, the familiar spinning was back with a vengeance. It was as bad as day 1 like nothing I’ve done up to that point has worked. My husband saw me staring blankly at the wall again, urged me to stop the madness, and teleconsult with an actual doctor.
So I did. After describing my situation, I was diagnosed with BPPV. The doctor prescribed Cinnarizine to replace the Meclizine HCl I was taking. Advised me to give it 2-3 days, try not to move my head around too much, and go in for a physical check-up if the dizziness persists. That makes sense for a teleconsultation, plus the new antihistamine works faster too.
This is where my story is at right now because I haven’t visited a clinic or hospital yet. To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s worth the risk to go out at this time. We’ve been fully vaccinated as of October but that doesn’t mean we’re invincible especially with the Omicron variant floating around.
Vertigo Attack: Recuperation
I stopped doing the Foster maneuver and tried the Epley maneuver a couple of days ago. I’m no longer experiencing the vertigo spinning for over a week now but there’s a residual off-balance sensation when bending my head to look down. Not sure how to maneuver that feeling out yet. I’m doing some inner ear balance exercises now, hoping it helps.
After working late, I no longer stay up to binge-watch Netflix or YouTube. I also try not to use my phone too much because I have chronic pain in my left shoulder and neck. My water intake has improved and I pay closer attention to what I eat. I’ve been intermittent fasting for a while now but am still guilty of consuming unhealthy stuff sometimes so I have to improve on that. Good thing I’m not into excessive drinking or smoking. I’m dying slower I guess.
Some of the things I learned from this that could be helpful for others too:
- In hindsight, I should have called the doctor from day 1 but I didn’t.
- Do not take any other medication when you already have anti-histamine or anti-vert in your system.
- Get some sleep! Sleeping on your back is the best option but only use 1 pillow under your head.
- Drink plenty of water. And you know the usual, eat healty and exercise.
- Spend a few minutes in sunlight if possible. I find this one a bit challenging so I’m considering Vitamin D supplements.
- If you’re able, do the Epley maneuver first. When the extreme dizziness is gone, try the Brandt-Daroff exercise.
I didn’t finish my Cinnarizine prescription because I only had to take 2 tablets to get rid of nausea. So I still have some left if I get another vertigo attack in the future. I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep taking it for the residual dizziness. It’s not exactly a cure, it only suppresses the symptoms.
I should call my doctor again to check in about the lingering dizziness. Or actually, go out for a F2F with an ENT doctor. Perhaps after the holidays. Still got some Christmasing to do despite a lot of reasons in the world not to celebrate. Like Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) and most of us seem to forget that COVID-19 is still a thing.
May we all have just the appropriate amount of enjoyment this holiday season.