My journey with balance and dizziness issues began in November, 1996. I had just recovered from the common cold when out of the blue I began to have dizzy spells accompanied by severe nausea.
My first attack happened at work and I had to lie down on the floor for two hours until it subsided. I was then able to drive home and make an appointment with my doctor for the following day. My doctor diagnosed me with labyrinthitis and told me that it would go away in a few weeks.
Unfortunately, my attacks became more frequent and more intense as time went by. They would usually start when I got out of bed in the morning and lasted for several hours. After an attack subsided, I was left feeling very fatigued or with a severe headache.
I went back to my doctor and he referred me to an ENT specialist who confirmed my diagnosis of labyrinthitis. But four months passed and none of my symptoms had changed.
I was regularly absent from work and often wouldn't be able to get into the office until noon. Fortunately I had a very understanding employer. If I could get my work done during the days I felt well enough, I didn't need to worry about having a job. Since I usually felt unwell in the mornings, he changed my schedule so that I could start at noon and finish at eight. This took a massive amount of stress off me since I was very concerned about supporting my family.
Since my illness was not improving, my doctor referred me to two ENTs and a neurologist to rule out other central nervous system diseases. The neurologist finally diagnosed me with Vestibular Neuritis and said that the cold virus had probably damaged my vestibular nerve. He guessed that the damaged portion of the nerve could re-grow over time and my body would be able to compensate for the deficit.
It took four years for my symptoms to subside and my life to get back to some form of normal. Occasionally, I still get a slight dizzy sensation when walking down narrow hallways or when crowds of people are walking towards me. I can't fly anymore as cabin pressure changes might affect the damaged vestibular nerve. Nevertheless, I feel fortunate to be better and I sympathise with anyone afflicted by a vestibular illness. - Andrew Veuger, Victoria, BC