A giant reached down and flipped over my bed...
August 13, 2018 5:10 PM   Subscribe

...and I guess this is what vertigo feels like when you're sleeping? YANMD, but has this happened to you, and then what?

This morning I awoke with a shriek when it felt like my bed was flipping over. It was terrifying! So I guess this is vertigo? I slept a bit more and then opened my eyes to a bit of a merry-go-round view of my ceiling. Then I slept more. That was it, and though I've felt a little bit groggy and hungover most of the day I feel fine. I am terrified this is going to happen to me when I'm standing up. What are your similar experiences and how did it play out? Obviously everyone will advise me to go to the doctor, but I'd also love to hear about real experiences from the green.

Other things:
-I'm healthy, I have zero history of health problems and take no meds (except calcium chews and the occasional multivitamin); I've been to a doc one once in the last five years;
-I'm intermittently active these days, mostly walking and regular short bike commutes;
-I'm pretty good nutritionally and aside from my daily cuppa java, I drink only water (and maybe a glass of wine or beer 2-4 days a week);
-We fell asleep at a crazy early hour last night and slept at least nine hours;
-No family history of anything like this as far as I know;
-I visited a chiropractor every 10 days or so for about 2 months, but it ended a month ago;
-I'm 50 and female.
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
do a youtube search for the semont maneuver, and do this maneuver 3x a day for 2 weeks while waiting for the ENT appointment you're going to make is available, bc it's probably these weird stupid tiny crystals inside your ear that is causing this. it's not something you can prevent via diet or exercise or vitamins or general good health, it's just a stupid and annoying thing that happens for literally no fucking reason at all other than the universe thinking it's hilarious.

oh but you need to figure out which side it's on so while sitting up, tip your head straight backwards and then look to the left, if this triggers the vertigo then it's on the left side. if not, try it again on the right. it can be useful to have someone help you out with doing the maneuvers the first time but it's not necessary.

the good news is that it's likely specifically a positional kind of vertigo (BPPV to be exact) so it tends to only happen when changing position between standing/sitting and laying down. it won't suddenly attack you while standing unless you've tipped your head back to look at something above you.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:24 PM on August 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yep, been there, done that. I awoke to my room spinning (more like falling) diagonally...and I thought to myself "Gee, I'm still SUPER drunk!' Then when I opened my eyes and it happened again, I reminded myself that I hadn't actually touched ANY alcohol the night before!

I couldn't stand up without falling over and proceeded to vomiting fairly quickly. How it played out for me after that was that I rang my GP and asked for help: they told me to come in, but I couldn't get there! So, based on my description, they wrote a prescription for two medicines (I believe one was to control nausea and the other to reduce inflammation) and allowed a friend of mine to pick it up for me.

The medicine helped fairly quickly and I went in to see the GP a day or two later. It was diagnosed as BPPV. See this webpage:


For a wee while after then I felt I had to be careful with my head position or else I'd start feeling dizzy/nauseated really easily. Eventually that feeling went away. Also, if it is BPPV, there are head movement exercises one can do to help counteract it happening again (though one has to be careful with these exercises evidently). And since then, I've only had maybe 2-3 relatively minor episodes of vertigo across what has now been nearly 15 years.

But yes, see a doctor!
posted by Halo in reverse at 5:25 PM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Look up Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. That's what it sounds like to me. It is likely to recur: you're in the target demographic.
posted by suelac at 5:25 PM on August 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yes, I just had this over the summer (45, F). I described it as like waking up on a sinking ship. It helps to hold your head absolutely still till it subsides. I saw a GP and she said it was BPPV. I had it for a few mornings in a row till I did the Epley maneuver, and then it went away and has stayed away.
posted by xo at 5:37 PM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have BPPV occasionally (I am your age/sex) and it's actually better when you are awake because if you don't move your head, it can be mostly fine. I usually do the Epley Maneuver (weird video but it works for me) and I can get it to go away. Sometimes it takes a while and then I take dramamine to minimize the symptoms. Always a good idea to get things checked out to make sure it isn't something worse, but it's usually "one of those things" I get it every few years and since I've started doing the Epley it never lasts more than a day.
posted by jessamyn at 5:40 PM on August 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have had this as well and other people have given great advice already so I will just add that when this happened to me it was followed by at least two weeks if the worst head cold I have ever had.
posted by janepanic at 6:56 PM on August 13, 2018

More than one relative has had this issue and the Epley maneuver cured them. It helps if you can have someone else time you and tell you what position is next. Both of them got checked by a doctor to rule out any other issues.
posted by soelo at 8:04 PM on August 13, 2018

As a clinician who sees people with BPPV pretty often, the maneuver that people find the easiest is the half-somersault. It does the same thing as the Epley and Sermont (moves the detached otolith out of the semicircular canal and shakes it back to the utricle) but somehow people find it easier to follow.

If it's not treated pretty quickly by the maneuvers, do see a doctor just to make sure it's not something else.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:53 PM on August 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

yes and when it comes on when you're already lying down holding still not doing anything is the very worst. except when you're asleep and it wakes you up nauseated and falling from a great height, that is the very very worst. it came on for no reason, made me unhappy for months, and then went away again for no reason. at the time I thought it would ruin my life forever and now I have forgotten it ever happened.

the epley thingum didn't do anything for me but it still eventually went away for absolutely no reason. I did not go to the doctor because I prefer to panic and complain. but other people should be responsible and go. in the meantime you can probably make things stop spinning if you find the exact right angle & side to rotate your head & body to and don't move it even a single degree.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:20 PM on August 13, 2018

I had this and it was high blood pressure. Get your blood pressure checked!
posted by honey-barbara at 9:52 PM on August 13, 2018

See your GP. You do not need an ENT because this is probable labrythitis and it's totally treatable. But you totally 100% want to have the drugs to hand at all times, forever.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:48 AM on August 14, 2018

This has happened to me a few times in the past few years, and I'm roughly your age and also healthy etc. Once it felt like my chair entered another dimension. I had post-concussion syndrome, but it started before that. A Mefite suggested that I drink more water when it happens, and it does seem to help.

If it's any reassurance: I've seen a bunch of specialists for my head injury and there's nothing physically wrong with me. So -- this isn't, like, immediately a sign of a brain tumor or anything like that.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:43 PM on August 15, 2018

For anyone reading through the thread, a summary of what happened on my end:
The initial vertigo attack was attributed to BPPV and it did happen a few more times in the month or so that followed. The regular daily dizziness and weird fullness in my head did not resolve. My primary care physician referred me to an ENT, where they ran a battery of tests that involved hearing/balance/vestibular testing and attaching wires to my face and introducing loud sounds to my ears to see how the opposite eye area responded (VEMP).

They determined I have Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome (SCDS). My brain has for the most part adjusted to the regular dizziness and it's not terribly bad anymore. I feel frequent "ear fullness" (kind of like swimmer's ear) and sometimes hear my eyes blink and--I could be imagining it but maybe not--I feel more fatigued on the daily. I follow a couple of related groups on Facebook and see that, at least for now, I'm quite lucky and that a lot of people have to resort to surgery because of debilitating symptoms. Thanks as always for all the feedback. :)
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 10:30 AM on July 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

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