How to Survive a Vertigo Attack

Vertigo is the most unpleasant of all the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.  I could deal with most of the issues but the vertigo attacks were unbearable.  The worst part about them was the completely unpredictable nature of them.  They would come without warning and at the worst times.  And then when they came, I was always unsure of how long they would last–sometimes eight hours and sometimes they would last over night.  When they were done, I was completely exhausted and worried when the next “big one” would hit.

If you are new to Meniere’s, you need to understand the difference between dizziness and vertigo.  Dizziness is a feeling of unsteadiness or loss of equilibrium.  Vertigo on the other hand has a whirling or spinning sensation.  Vertigo can affect you whether you are standing or lying down.  I also found that during vertigo attacks, I would suffer from the sensation whether my eyes were open or closed.  Although, I found I did better with my eyes opened.

Also, if you are new to Meniere’s, you need to come up with your strategy for how you will deal with vertigo attacks–at least until you get your Meniere’s disease under control. Here is my suggested method for surviving a vertigo attack.

  1. Quickly find a location where you can be comfortable for a while.  As I mentioned before, you don’t know how long this is going to last.  I always found it better to ride out the storm with little stimulus.  This meant a quiet, dark place.  I always found the smallest of noises to be very disturbing during attacks.  Even if you have to hug the wall or crawl to your ideal destination, it will be worth it.
  2. The next important thing is to not panic.  Vertigo attacks are some of the most miserable things I have experienced but they are not fatal.  You will live through them–although you first time, you may wonder.  Keep in mind that this is a temporary state and it will pass.
  3. This will be the toughest step.  Relax.  Yes, that is much easier said than done.  It is like standing in the middle of a burning house while someone is repeatedly yelling, “Remain calm.”  Stress during this time will only make your symptoms worse.  If you know any relaxation techniques, now is the time to put them into action.
  4. These next two steps will take some experimentation to determine what works best for you.  I found that shutting my eyes during a vertigo attack made things worse.  It was better to find an object in the room to focus on.  Some people do better with their eyes closed and it helps them relax. Learn for yourself what works best.  Maybe it will take a combination of the two depending on the severity of the vertigo.
  5. Keep breathing.  How best to breathe take more experimentation.  Some do well with short shallow breaths.  Others find that deep breaths help them relax more.  Learn what works best for you.
  6. Think of better days.  Again this is one of those “easier said than done” things.  But you will find that that naturally, you will find yourself thinking back on previous attacks and how long they were and how they turned out.  Give your mind something more positive to focus on.  Have it focus on a time when you were completely healthy and weren’t plagued with ringing ears and spinning rooms.

As you learn about Meniere’s disease, and specifically your personal symptoms, you can reduce the severity and eventually eliminate them from your life.



  1. Your information is useful! I have suffered numerous severe vertigo attacks, and the total helplessness and inability to move. But my problem is that I also suffer from Vasovagal syndrome. That means every time I get nauseous from the vertigo and throw up, I also lose consciousness. Have suffered 2 concussions and a herniated disc in my neck as a result. So for me, the vertigo episodes are extremely dangerous. When I feel an attack coming on – I do have a little notice by the significant increased ringing in my ear – I now know to:
    1. immediately take my anti-nausea pill (Zofran) to minimize that part of the episode. I have them always with me when I’m out and in several locations in the house
    2. very important to get down on the floor in a safe comfortable place; like you, quiet and not bright are best. But I also have to try to be on an easy clean-up floor, so I have a thick yoga mat to lay on.
    3. I also call someone to come and supervise me, because of the danger I could aspirate.
    4. breathing is important, as you said. I have found I have to avoid hyperventilating, and have frequently used a paper bag to help me calm my breathing.

    So far, only 1 attack has not occurred at home. Lucky with that. But the one not at home was on a flight. to LAX. I ended up deplaning via a wheelchair because I couldn’t walk, and my hubby and I spent 6 hrs (me on the floor) in a little room the airline was kind enough to let us use, until I could be wheel out of the airport and make it home in the car. Pretty sure I’m black listed now with airline…..

    I am trying the low-sodium diet and no caffeine now, praying it will help. I have yet to find a trigger! That’s frustrating but maybe I can try the journal to see if anything starts to make sense. I’m also looking in to seeing an ENT or neurotolgy specializing in MD.
    Thank you!

    Thanks to all who are living with MD and trying to help others with it.

    • Heavens! I’ve never experienced things quite that bad. I wish you the best in your quest to get better. Know that many have figured this out. Keep up the hope and try the many different things that work for folks. Good Luck

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