High Noon at the Vertigo Saloon

Step right up, folks! Step right up! Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to be dazzled! Prepare to be amazed! Those lucky few selected for this experiment will soon find the ground shifting beneath their feet. The very floor beneath you will bounce like a ship on choppy seas. Even when you sit perfectly still, the world will sway around you, and nothing you reach for will be exactly where you expect. Only the bravest among you will be able to make it through this disruption to your senses in order to do basic duties, like fixing your dinner or going to the toilet. You’ll look and feel drunk–but with none of the fun! Welcome to the Funhouse!

Vertigo impacts roughly 64 people out of every 100,000. In fact, vertigo is so common that it’s easy to find dozens of  online videos and web articles promising to banish your vertigo in minutes with a few simple movements. But for many of us, that handy-dandy Epley Maneuver won’t do a damn thing.

The fact is, according to Dr. Timothy Hain, migraineous vertigo is the most common cause of vertigo in the general population. And if you’re one of that number, it’s going to be a long journey to figure out what can prevent and treat your vertigo.

Whether they call it vestibular migraine or migraine-associated vertigo, sufferers experience it the same way: The world spins and rocks and bounces around us while we try to navigate a path through it. It’s nauseating, disorienting, and downright exhausting.

If the Epley Maneuver does nothing for you and migraine medications leave you feeling worse, prevention may be the way to go.

There are plenty of excellent books and specialists out there who can give you advice targeted to your specific needs. But here’s what a specialist recommended for me, and it works:

– Regular cardio workouts five to six days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes

– Limiting or cutting espresso and other common migraine triggers

– Consuming at least three vegetable servings and two fruit servings a day

– Getting a regular eight hours of sleep, at a regular time

– Staying hydrated and eating four to five small meals throughout the day

– Working on my stress management skills with meditation, journaling, napping, and watching sitcoms for fun

Still, there are some triggers I can’t control–like hormonal changes, weather shifts, and changing seasons with the resulting time changes. These unfortunately conspired against me this week, so I’m down for the count today. But I’ll take the occasional sick day over how it used to be.

Vertigo and migraines used to take me out for weeks. Last fall, it lasted months. Since trying healthy living, I’ve cut the Epley Maneuver from my repertoire. Instead, I’ll do a gentle workout. The most I’ll miss work now is a couple days.

So if you have vertigo and the Epley Maneuver just isn’t cutting it, ask for a referral to a migraine or vertigo specialist. They’ll build you a new toolkit. And it will change your life. Excuse me now, while I go get in a little racquetball on my Wii fit.

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