Dear Ask The Doctor: Why am i feeling light headed when i lay on my left side and not my right side? i am 42 years old. and my equilibrium appears to be different. i can't get up too fast or may get dizzy. i can't ride roller coasters or other rides at the amusement park, like i use to. lately, i've been having problems laying on my left side in bed because i feel light headed. so, i lay on my back or right side, just to switch up sometimes. my question is why is the change? and why am i feeling light headed when i lay on my left side and not my right side? thanks for your help! donna
Dear Dj: The symptoms that you are experiencing are most consistent with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). There is an organ in your inner ear called the vestibule which is shaped like three semi-circular canals filled with fluid. Inside the canals there are also sensory nerve fibres and otoliths. This system helps in keeping your equilibrium. Sometimes the crystals on the otoliths get dislodged and cause symptoms of dizziness and vertigo.
You may need to visit an Otolaryngologist to do tests for BPPV (Electronystagmography & videonystagmography) sometimes an MRI may also be needed to diagnose acoustic neuroma( another cause of vertigo). For the treatment, a canalith repositioning can be done at the doctors office, severe cases may require surgery.
In the meantime, there are certain precautions you need to take :
1. Sit down if you are feeling dizzy, be aware that you may fall down.
2. Use a cane for support, if you are not able to balance yourself.
3. Keep your surrounding environment bright and well lit.