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.