DEAR DR. DONOHUE: From the minute I get out of bed, I have attacks of dizziness. I don’t know what brings them on. I’m afraid these spells are going to make me fall and break something. Do you have any thoughts that could help? I’m 82. — R.M.
ANSWER: The causes of dizziness (vertigo) are many. I’ll mention a couple, but you need a doctor’s exam to determine what the exact problem is.
Meniere’s (main-YAIRS) disease is a triad of dizziness, hearing loss and ear noises (tinnitus). It comes in brief attacks, with recovery in a short time. As time passes, attacks last longer, with briefer periods of relief. A buildup of fluid in the inner ear is responsible. Water pills and a strict low-sodium diet help. Surgical drainage of the fluid is another treatment.
A viral infection of the inner ear is a common dizziness cause. Time eventually takes care of the virus. During the period of infection, a medicine like meclizine improves symptoms.
A third common problem is benign positional vertigo — dizziness attacks with head movement. Getting out of bed, rolling over in bed, looking up at a high shelf and just about any change in head position trigger an attack, which is short-lived. Tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear have migrated to places where they engender a discharge of confusing signals to the brain. Repositioning the crystals puts an end to the attacks.
Sit in the middle of a bed, far enough to the opposite side of the bed that your head will project over that side when you lie down. If a head turn to the right provokes an attack, quickly turn your head to the right, and keep it turned until dizziness goes. Then lie down quickly with your head off the side of the bed and still turned to the right. Then, from that position, turn your head to the left. Roll over onto your left side, with your nose pointed down to the floor, for 30 seconds. Then go back to the starting sitting position with head bent. If dizziness persists, repeat. If this is too complicated, let your doctor lead you through it.
The booklet on dizziness discusses in greater depth its various causes and treatments. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Donohue — No. 801W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I try to keep up with the latest nutritional recommendations. I have had no formal training, so I am often confused by the terms used. For example, what are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates? What’s the difference? — L.A.
ANSWER: Simple carbohydrates are sugars like table sugar (sucrose). The sugar in intravenous feedings in hospitals is glucose, and fruit sugar is fructose. Both are simple carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are very long chains of the basic carbohydrate unit. Starches are complex carbohydrates. Potatoes, pastas and rice are examples of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates don’t raise blood sugar as quickly as simple ones do.
Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
©2012 North America Synd.