Many Faces of Vertigo -Daniel Pancy

Warning! Some of these photos may trigger vertigo!

By having severe bilateral Meniere’s disease, it has come to my attention that there are many different words to use other than “dizzy.” A few come to mind: light-headedness, dizziness, vertigo, spinning, giddiness. They are all trying to get across the message that something is wrong with me. However, it is difficult to explain what you are trying to describe to your doctor, nurse, spouse, or friend.

Vertigo is when a person feels like the room, or in other situations the world, is in spinning movement or motion without it really occurring. Sounds easy enough to explain, “I am dizzy.” But this is where it can get complicated.

When vertigo is perceived as a spinning inside yourself it’s known as subjective vertigo. It does not involve the effect of seeing objects moving around your environment.

Subjective Vertigo. Photo by Daniel Pancy

Objective vertigo, on the other hand, is when the environment is seen as spinning or moving around you.

They may sound very similar and maybe thought to be the same to the person experiencing them, but they are totally different and an understanding between them is important in helping to make a diagnosis by my/your doctor.

Objective Vertigo. Photo by Daniel Pancy

Then there is what is called “pseudovertigo.” That is a sensation of spinning in one’s own head. Best explained as if one gets up too fast from a sitting position or when being anxious. There is no vertigo associated with this, either Objective or Subjective.

Quick Spin Vertigo, is my own name for Objective Vertigo that lasts for one to maybe three seconds. It is over as fast as it starts with no lasting side effects or reason. No one has been ever to explain what it is or the cause of it. It just happens, and then it is over. It usually requires grabbing something to hold on to for balance control.

Just as important is know what Spatial Disorientation is.  That is when a person feels like he/she does not know where one’s body is in compared to being in space being vertical and horizontal.

Spatial Disorientation.

It is enough to make your head spin just trying to understand it all and let alone trying to explain what is happening to you while answering questions from your doctor wanting more information. Did you fall? Did you throw up? Did you hit your head? Have you had a cold? Have you changed medications? Did you lose your hearing? Did you sweat? How long did it last?  I don’t know. “I’m dizzy.” Isn’t that good enough of an explanation for you?

Again, no it is not. You need to beware of all the information out there and become your own advocate about your condition. The more accurate description you can give your health care provider, the better he/she will be able to help you. It is the first step in trying to figure out what is wrong and develop a treatment program.

Being familiar with the many faces of vertigo personally, I have created , through the use of my camera lens and the computer, a visually representation of these faces of vertigo in order to physically show what is meant by each one. Please feel free to copy them and take them your physician or to show your family, friends, and co-workers if you need visual explanation of what it means to have vertigo or being dizzy. -Daniel Pancy

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