Help! What Can I Do for My Vertigo?

The ear pain, room spinning, light sensitivity, and headache is becoming a nuisance.

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I've been suffering from vertigo for the past three or four years. Lately, ear pain, dizziness, light sensitivity, and headache have become a regular occurrence. What should I do?  

Bryan Arling, M.D.

If your vertigo is becoming increasingly frequent and severe, you should definitely see an ear, nose, and throat specialist to look for wax, infections, or tumors that could be seen in the external or middle ear. A formal audiogram should be obtained, and even if you do not have more hearing loss in that ear than your other ear, I would recommend an MRI of the brain (with and without gadolinium contrast) with special sections of the internal acoustic canals to look for a benign and typically slow-growing tumor known as a vestibular schwannoma, popularly called an acoustic neuroma. 

Meclizine (Antivert) is an antihistamine medicine that can lessen vertigo symptoms, but it can also make one more drowsy and fuzzy-headed. This is also true for baclofen and diazepam. Until your evaluation is complete, it would be prudent to go on a low-salt diet and to drive defensively and be cautious about biking and other activities that might put you at risk for injury should you suddenly experience neurologic symptoms.

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