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Date of last update: 10/04/2017.

Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Vertigo and Shaking Vision

 Tandia128 - Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:34 pm

Hi, I'm a 17 year old girl and recently I've been having episodes of vertigo and shaking vision. Usually, it happens right before I fall asleep and is just the vertigo. However, in a few instances it has happened when I am sitting up and fully awake. It starts with the vertigo, then my vision starts to shake uncontrollably. (None of this ever happens when I'm standing.) I had an EEG done a few months ago, but it came back normal (even though during the test flashing lights induced an episode of vertigo).

My paternal grandmother died of multiple sclerosis when I was little, and I've done some research on MS. The fact that it has some genetic factors, along with the presence of a few symptoms that are associated with MS are worrying me. Lately I've been suffering from lower back pain (although I do take hip-hop dance classes that are fairly high-impact, which could be the cause, but the pain kind of goes away and comes back.) and some acid reflux (but again, it could be something else. I've been taking Motrin fairly regularly for the back pain, and prior to that due to chronic headaches, and I know that taking medication like that can mess with your stomach.) I'm often fatigued as well, and most days feel like taking a nap after school, but I'm a teenager (so I'd probably sleep until noon on weekends regardless of any medical problems) and I usually only get between 6 and 7 hours of sleep on week nights due to homework and a busy schedule.

I would really rather not go to my parents with all of this and scare them if it's nothing, so any sort of opinion on all of this would be greatly appreciated.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:44 pm

User avatar Hi there --

So much to say, so little time! First, you may be having focal seizures even though the EEG didn't detect seizure activity. The strobe triggered vertigo, which is pretty interesting, and telling. You probably need now to have an electronystagmogram (try saying that even one time fast). This will help localize the problem, especially if it happens to be some form of vestibular (inner ear) disease. You could have Menier's or some similar vestibular disturbance, or, again, this could be focal seizure activiity, which does not always show up on EEG, even though it should. The fact the strobe triggered vertigo makes me wonder a great deal about vestibular problems, and this is very manageable, if not totally curable. There are fairly simple meds one can take to control this and sometimes it can be forced into remission that way.

Due to the history of MS in your family and the fact that there can be a genetic factor is a good reason for a complete neurologic workup, and while, as a parent, I can not only understand but appreciate your concern and reluctance to discuss this with them, I think it is, over the long haul, a much better plan to sit down and just fill them in. They're your parents. They want to help. They may worry, true. It's in the job description, though. They'll be able to help with getting things checked out, and everyone will feel better in the long run.

My strongest instinct is that this is not MS-related but very likely vestibular disease. Having all the scariest stuff ruled out first, though, really makes it easier to deal with what's left. I hope this is helpful, and please do follow up with us here as needed. Update us, too, if you learn anything new. Good luck to you!

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