Fibromyalgia and Vertigo : Is it to Blame for my Vertigo?


Fibromyalgia is not easy to live with and it can make it hard to go about your daily life like a normal person. When you can’t walk to the mailbox without fear of falling on the sidewalk then you understand how this can be troubling. It makes it difficult to drive down the street and doing everyday activities can make you very tired.

Dizziness is one of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia and can lead to a lot of different problems. People who have fibromyalgia may find they can’t enjoy things like they used to, a walk in the park can turn into a dangerous experience. There are things people do to cope with their symptoms, but dizziness is one of the harder ones to control.

It can be horrible to feel completely out of control of your body. The fear that you could have a dizzy spell at any point can make it hard to focus on anything else. When you are dizzy it feels like you might fall any moment, you might be lightheaded, or even unsteady on your feet. These things can be troubling and even make it hard for you to walk from the house to your car on some occasions. Spin around in a circle really fast and stand up straight – is the room shifting? Imagine that feeling doesn’t go away after a few seconds and that’s what being dizzy from Fibromyalgia can feel like. That constant feeling that you’ve been spinning around with your head on a baseball bat can make it hard for you to even walk.

The unfortunate truth is that the symptoms that come attached to suffering from fibromyalgia can make life especially difficult. It can be hard to do simple things other people take for granted such as going to work, finishing household chores, and some days even getting out of bed. In addition to all of the chronic migraines and headaches, rough time concentrating, memory loss, and muscle pain, individuals with this condition frequently suffer from vertigo as well.

Understanding Fibromyalgia and Dizziness Symptoms

Vertigo, more commonly known as dizziness, is something you feel after riding in a car, airplane, or even a boat. Motion sickness and dizziness are caused because your brain is receiving mixed information about the equilibrium of your body. When your eyes, skin, ears, and muscles all receive different messages, it confuses your brain and causes you to be dizzy. While your eyes may be focused on a single spot, the rest of your body is bouncing all over. When this happens, your brain has no idea where your body is and it causes the dizziness, which can also make you sick to your stomach. You can think of it like when you get off a roller coaster that has a lot of upside down loops, your brain is attempting to catch up to your body being away from the ride.

Understanding What Vertigo Actually Is

Everyone is going to experience some degree of vertigo at some point in time during their life. Maybe you had the flu, maybe you were pregnant, or maybe you had a little too much to drink? Either way, you know what it feels like to struggle to keep your footing strong and stable. The difference between your experience and those who suffer from Fibromyalgia is that they can’t escape that feeling after the baby comes or once they’ve had a good night’s rest.

Vertigo is something people frequently describe as feeling lightheaded and unsteady. The truth is that the word “dizzy” is a pretty open word that can used to be described feeling “off” in anyway. Feeling like you are going to pass out or that you have low blood pressure are too common situations where someone would say they feel dizzy.

There Are Different Kinds of Dizziness

Did you know there are actually several different types of dizziness? The symptoms you suffer from actually depend on what kind of dizziness you are experiencing. As always, you should talk to a doctor if any of your symptoms last for a long period of time. Below you will learn to recognize the difference and some tips that can help you cope with it a little better.

Type 1 – Vertigo

Vertigo is that sensation you get when it feels like your body is spinning and swirling around even when you are standing perfectly still. It may feel like you are floating in the air or tilted off balanced. It is normal for someone to feel sick to their stomach when they experience vertigo. A person can experience this sensation for as much as a few minutes to as long as a few days. If you’ve ever had too much to drink and put one foot on the floor from your bed to stop the room from spinning then you know what it feels like.

In some cases, it can cause your eyes to slightly swing back and forth inside of your head. This is what is known as nystagmus. Inner ear dizziness is one of the more common causes of vertigo. While it does sound like something that only happens in cartoons it is a real issue.

Your vision gives your brain information about where you are in relation to where the rest of the world is. Your vision plays an important role in your ability to be balanced. If there is something wrong with your vision, it can send the wrong information to your brain, which can make you unbalanced. This in turn can make you experience vertigo.  Black spots can show up in your vision and black out parts of what you are looking at or floaters can make it difficult to see.

This is why you can also experience vertigo when the world around you is moving while you are not. The information your vision is sending your brain in that situation conflicts with what your body is doing, which is why your brain becomes confused.

Type 2 – Unsteadiness

Unsteadiness is the feeling you get when you just cannot stay balanced. You may feel like you are drunk or high because you are just having a hard time standing on two feet. Poor vision and arthritis tend to come with the package. Younger individuals often refer to this type of dizziness as having a problem with their equilibrium. When your equilibrium is off you can’t walk in a straight line and it becomes difficult to simply carry something across the room. Learn to gage when these spells are coming on and try to find somewhere to sit or at the very least lean against the wall.

Type 3 – Lightheadness

Lightheadness, just as the name suggests, is the feeling as though your head is lighter than it really should be. With this type of dizziness, comes nausea and lots of feelings of being unbalanced. It feels kind of light you feel when you take too much cold medication, loopy and out of space.

Understanding Fibromyalgia and Dizziness Treatment

As you dig deeper into the symptoms of this condition, you are going to learn something – it impacts pretty much every aspect of your body (both physically and emotionally) in some way. As with most symptoms of this condition, there is not really a clear reason why fibromyalgia causes you to experience vertigo. There are, however, times where it happens more commonly:

  • After you have been standing for a lengthy period of time
  • When you go from sitting to standing
  • Climbing up the stairs
  • When you are in a warm environment
  • After you have been exercising
  • After you have eaten a heavy meal
  • After you experienced a lot of emotional stress

While there are not any studies to show there is a direct connection between these activities, fibromyalgia, and vertigo – they are situations where individuals more commonly experience it.

Is Your Medication Causing It?

Individuals who suffer from this condition tend to take a significant amount of medication to deal with pain and other symptoms. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor when you start to experience dizziness. There is a chance the dizziness is being caused by your medication. If it is, you can talk to your doctor about lowering the dose or switching to a different medication. The only way you will figure this information out is if you talk to your doctor. Most of the time people just accept that it is a symptom of the Fibromyalgia so they never examine other things that could be causing it. Learn to know your body and when it is trying to tell you what’s going into it is making things worse.

Complications of Suffering From Dizziness

There are a lot of reasons why developing dizziness as a symptom of fibromyalgia can be very bad for you. For starts, it increases your chances of falling down and getting hurt.

Imagine driving a vehicle or operating machinery while you experience a spout of dizziness. Suddenly, you are going to find yourself in a very dangerous situation. There can also be a lot of long term consequences if you do not get a handle on being dizzy. While you cannot treat fibro, you can do something about the dizziness.

Managing Your Vertigo: Adapting and Protecting Yourself

The unfortunate truth is there really is not a pill you can pop every time you start to feel dizzy that is going to make all of your problems go away. There are, however, other things you can do to manage your suffering and keep yourself safe. If you find ways to try and control it you can greatly improve your quality of life.

First, you need to make your home (as well as your place of employment) safe for someone who suffers from dizzy spells. Do not make it easy for you to get hurt if you fall or for you to trip over something. Think of it as dizzy proofing the house and look around for ways you might be injured even if they are really silly. It helps to have a good sense of humor about everything.

Next, you should learn to squat instead of bending. You should also gradually stand up instead of trying to do so quickly. Train your brain to associate bending with pain, it doesn’t hurt, but if you train yourself to think it will you’ll find you don’t bend down as much.

Exercise in the form of yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, and dance can be great ways to improve both strength and balance. In general, any type of exercise is going to help with your balance. It will also help you feel better overall. If you suffer from fatigue when you do too much yoga can be a gentle alternative.

Unfortunately, there is no way around accepting the fact that living with fibromyalgia is never going to be a walk in the park. Fortunately, there are ways you can adapt and things you can do to adjust your life and make living a little more comfortable.

Doctors and Treatments

Your doctor is going to base your treatment for the dizzy spells based on exactly what is causing them. Here are some of the options your doctor may consider:

BPPV: This treatment involves repositioning your head through physical therapy. After two or three treatments, a person tends to do a lot better.

Inner Ear Condition: Medication bay be prescribed if your inner ear is causing the dizziness problem. Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist who can walk you through therapies and exercises that can make the condition easier to deal with.

When you have a problem that is hard to deal with like the pain and constant interruptions that come from having Fibromyalgia, it’s easy to become very frustrated. If you learn everything you can about the ailment then it gives you a little bit more control and can help you cope with it better. Learning why you’re dizzy and what you can do to help change it can be life changing.

Further reading:

Dizziness and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia and ear, dizziness and vertigo problems

Dizziness, Balance and Fibromyalgia

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