Stop The Vertigo, I Want to Get Off

Coping with dizziness.

By Kevin RR Williams

HEALTH Vertigo is a debilitating prodrome that can occur along or in association with other symptoms. It might simply be described as the sensation of spinning while standing still, produced perhaps either by nystagmus or inner ear pathology. For some people it is nearly constant; others experience periodic episodes, which may be preceded by an aura or might seem to strike unexpectedly.


Data from a 28-month study of 4,294 patients in 13 countries by Sam Agus, et al. divided diagnoses into four categories: 37.2% “other vertigo of peripheral vestibular origin,” 26.9% benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), 20.5% “peripheral vestibular vertigo of unknown origin,” and 15.4% Ménière’s disease (MD).

In the general-practice setting (real world), the three most common diagnoses of vertigo (accounting for 93.0% of all patient presentations) are BPPV, acute peripheral vestibulopathy (vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis), and MD. Unsurprisingly, neurologists, siding with statistics will pretty confidently diagnose BPPV or test to confirm such. Ménière’s disease specialists have a predilection for hearing tests.

Mold Triggers

There are thousands of diverse species of molds, including saprotrophs, mesophiles, psychrophiles and thermophiles and a very few opportunistic pathogens of humans. Molds reproduce by producing large numbers of small spores. The term mildew is often used generically to refer to mold growth, usually with a flat growth habit. Mold growth found on cellulose-based substrates or materials (i.e. tree, wood, paper) where moisture levels are high (90 percent or greater) is often Stachybotrys chartarum and is linked with sick building syndrome. “Black Mold,” also known as “Toxic Black Mold,” properly refers to S. chartarum.

Blog: Dizzying Solution to Vertigo

Aspergillus Fumigatus

Some toxic compounds within mold are called mycotoxins These are secondary metabolites produced by fungi under certain moist environmental conditions, weakening the host to proliferate into vast colonies. They cause immune system responses that vary considerably, depending on the individual. Extreme exposure to very high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems. The duration, frequency and concentration of exposure play a factor in triggering immune system response.

Household mold can usually be found in damp, dark or steamy areas like the bathroom or kitchen, cluttered storage areas, recently flooded areas, basement areas, plumbing spaces, areas with poor ventilation and outdoors in humid environments. People respond differently to allergens. Symptoms caused by mold allergy may include watery, itchy eyes, a chronic cough, headaches or migraines, fatigue, difficulty breathing, rashes, sinus problems, nasal blockage or frequent sneezing.

Studies are suggesting that the so-called toxic effects are the result of chronic activation of the immune system, leading to chronic inflammation. Up to 25% of the population may be genetically predisposed to chronic inflammation in response to mold exposure. Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease (AIED), affecting 1% of all cases of hearing impairment or dizziness, is a syndrome of progressive hearing loss and/or dizziness caused by antibodies or immune cells that attack the inner ear. Without specific tests for AIED, physicians must look for other evidence for autoimmune involvement.

With mold or mildew as an enemy, a walk through a garden, an innocent request of a friend to, “smell this,” or a leaky pipe can send some people spiraling after James Stewart. When awakening to a vertiginous episode, dizziness is not the only concern. Fatigue, migraine, hyperacusis, photophobia and nausea can transmigrate over a period of hours. Diminished concentration and memory lapses can lead to awkward conversations. When functioning at 30-percent capacity, retreating to dark quiet room is most appealing. But sometimes schedules and demands conflict with this preference.


Prescribed medications might address only one symptom. Betahistine is the most commonly prescribed, but not exclusive, therapy for BPPV and MD. So chances are, if you’ve seen a doctor recently, you’ll be diagnosed with BPPV and offered Betahistine. But what if your situation falls within the larger population of OVPVO (other vertigo of peripheral vestibular origin)? Treatments for AIED include plasmapheresis, methotrexate, intravenous immunoglobulin, and Etanercept (Enbrel).

Blog: Drink Away Vertigo With Water

This site has correlated vertigo with dizziness, migraines, allergies, caffeine and dehydration. Let's distill this information into an anecdotal home remedy. First try to separate yourself from the trigger. If it appears that your surrounding is spinning, you may be experiencing nystagmus (involuntary eye movement). Try focusing your hand or some other stationary object 12” from your face for a few minutes until your eyes stabilize. Sometimes the “vertigo” is more like migraine with malaise.

The allergen must be eliminated. If visible mold is seen on a nonporous surface, spray it with a diluted chlorine bleach solution. Oxygen bleach is recommended on porous surfaces. Less toxic solutions like baking soda and vinegar are mentioned in the link. Likely, the method selected will be limited to what you have available if you are in no position to drive. The point is that it is ineffective to take a pain reliever while continuing to breathe in toxic spores. If mold has penetrated porous materials like carpet and drywall or you have an area larger than 10 square feet, it may be best to contact a mold-removal professional. It is just as important to remove the source of mold accumulation — leaky faucet, pipe or water heater. After the cleanup you can assess the symptoms you typically experience — addressing them with over-the-counter preparations.

As a diuretic, caffeine can promote dehydration, producing hangover-like symptoms, which resemble the ones recently mentioned. Though it might seem to be something from which to stay far away, it’s effects are not so simple. Caffeine has molecular properties that interact with natural body chemicals (including adenosine, a neuromodular that regulates serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and acetycholine) to effectively become a toggle for useful neurochemicals in some migraine sufferers. Caffeine also combats fatigue. So if your presence is required — even at a diminished capacity — a cup of black coffee may need to begin brewing.

Blog: Coffee Compromised Equilibrium

If the episode is triggered by an allergy, an over-the-counter non-drowsy antihistamine like Claritin may offer moderate relief. Feverfew or an anti-inflammatory pill like ibuprofen might also help with headache. A multivitamin, or more specifically, B-12 can ameliorate some of the toxification issues — as will one or more bowel movements. Toxins are primarily eliminated through normal body wastes and perspiration. Over the course of the day, drink half your body weight in ounces water to flush out your system and rehydrate, counterbalancing effects of the fluid-depleting caffeine.

You should, of course, defer to a medically prescribed treatment. In the absence of such, beginning early enough in the morning, this cocktail of items you may have around the house can potentially move you to the 50-60 percent acuity range within a few hours. That is not enough to safely operate machinery but it may be just enough to return important phone calls or even make an appearance somewhere (with assistance). Fresh grated ginger beverages can help with stomach discomfort.

Stop The Vertigo, I Want to Get Off

Though allergies often manifest themselves with dermatological or pulmonary reactions, sometimes effects can be neurological. To learn what could be triggering your headaches, fatigue, migraines or vertigo, ask your doctor to perform allergy tests. Many can be performed from a blood specimen. Alternatively, skin patch tests may be done. Either way, recognize that the full extent of symptoms you might experience as a result of exposure to identified allergens can only be determined from careful observation. If, for example, tests reveal a severe mold or cheese allergy and you can pinpoint such exposure each time you experience migraines, you are on your way to ascertaining how to stay A Bit More Healthy.

Tags: neurology, nutrition, otolaryngology, scratch test