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A Question about Vertigo

Dr. Max S. Chartrand Ph.D.

A reader asks about their vertigo condition. From It's Your Hearing Health


For the past few months I've been having dizzy spells. I've seen three doctors for this, and each one says a different thing. Is it that hard to figure out what makes us dizzy? --- Mrs. R. M.


Dear Mrs. R. M.: The short answer to your question is: yes, it can be that difficult. For the sake of our readers I need to do a little defining.

Due to space limitations, some of the above question had to be edited, but the type of vertigo mentioned here indicates one that is common in older persons. It's most common form, and often very difficult to diagnose is called Benign Positional Paroxymal Vertigo (BPPV). This form of "dizziness" is caused by displacement of otoconia (calcium pellets that line vestibular or balance organ).

Otoconia normally help our vestibular organ to determine the position of our heads relative to gravitational pull. In BPPV otoconia displacement is provoked during quick head movements, increase in motion, or when one lies with their head back. The sensation is usually one of continued movement after one has stopped moving.

Some causes are trauma or a blow to the head, or, as we are seeing more and more, an over abundance of "free calcium" in the system (aka hypercalcemia). Free calcium is that which does not absorb into the bones and tissue. They instead leave deposits in the kidneys (stones), excess otoconia (in the vestibular organ), tympanosclerosis of the eardrum, bone spurs, and deposits in the joints of the body.

While there are many physical conditions that can cause hypercalcemia, it is my opinion that most today are caused by ingestion of large quantities of calcium supplements that do not absorb as they should.

For that reason I recommend only chelated or ionically-charged calcium supplements and in quantities more appropriate to the body's natural absorption (about 600mg. per day). I avoid antacid calcium (Tums, Rolaids, etc.) like the plague, because they produce almost 100% free calcium, and wreak havoc on those prone to hypercalcemia.

Getting back to your question, you might ask your doctors to refer you to a clinic that specializes in BPPV testing and therapy. If that is your problem, it can be relatively simple to correct with treatment.

However, if it is related to Meniere's disease, labyrinthitis, or hyperlipoproteinemia, these will have to be addressed with appropriate medical treatment.

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