Vertigo is NOT acrophobia

I always assumed, as I’m sure many do, that vertigo is a fear of heights. However, it appears that acrophobia is the correct term for that condition. A common misconception is may be but vertigo is a very real symptom of Multiple Sclerosis.

Vertigo is a dizzy sensation resulting in partial or complete loss of balance. I am sure that acrophobia can lead to vertigo, hence the apparent confusion.

Vertigo is a relatively common symptom of MS and is thought to caused by the demyelination of the Acoustic Cranial Nerve or 8th cranial nerve. This nerve serves both the auditory and balance signals from the ear.

Dizziness may also be a result of dysfunction in the eye muscles. This may be brought about by leions of the 3rd, 4th and 6th cranial nerves.

This dizziness can cause nausea and vomiting, it is often worse when lying down in bed with the lights out depriving the senses of other feedback.

Treatments

Physiotherapy can help with mild forms of vertigo. Ironically, the treatment I have had involves head turning to bring on the dizziness in the expectation that this will make the body accustomed to the sensation. It does seem to work, while the exercises did make me dizzy, the normal dizziness has all but disappeared.

More sever cases will need to be treated with medications:

  • antihistamine
  • meclizine
  • dramamine
  • cyclizine

Some drugs used to treat other MS symptoms like Baclofen or Tricyclic antidepressants can aggravate vertigo.

References:

Multiple Sclerosis Encyclopaedia
Fear of Heights

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Vertigo is NOT a fear of heights but it is common in MS
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