When dizziness becomes debilitating, this new clinic can help
Published Thursday, February 4, 2016 10:35AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 4, 2016 10:58AM EST
For some people, that dizzy feeling many of us get on a roller coaster or boat never stops, leaving them continuously off-balance, nauseous and even house-bound.
But the Ottawa Hospital’s new Dizziness Clinic is offering help and giving patients their lives back.
Lynn Lawrenson is one of the patients the clinic has already helped. One year ago, just getting up off the sofa was a challenge for her. She says she would have to brace herself against walls and furniture, just to make it across the room.
For over 15 months, she would be hit with spells of dizziness that made her vomit so much she lost 20 pounds and her hair was falling out from stress.
Her granddaughter had to become her personal caregiver, walking her to the washroom, helping her into the shower, and putting her to bed.
"If I'm 100 per cent honest, I have gone to bed some nights and prayed I wouldn't wake up the next day,” Lawrenson told CTV Ottawa.
The longest Lawrenson went without an attack was five days. Because she was too nervous to leave the house, she essentially became a prisoner in her home.
Lawrenson saw three specialists before she was finally referred to The Ottawa Hospital’s new Dizziness Clinic. The clinic opened in July and brings together a team of specialists from different areas of medicine to assess patients whose dizziness is difficult to diagnose.
There are only two clinics like this in Canada, helping patients who can’t find help anywhere else.
"The aim of clinic to see patients who are most chronic,” says Dr. Darren Tse, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the hospital who founded the clinic.
“They've had dizziness the longest period of time, and not been diagnosed or managed appropriately and people just don't know what's going on.”
Lawrenson was treated with a steroid medicine that was injected through her eardrum into her inner ear. The treatment is effective for the vast majority of Meniere's patients, including Lawrenson who says the spinning has stopped.
But she says it may still be some time before she overcomes her fear of another attack.
"I still haven't left the house on my own to go get groceries,” she says. “I've really got to try and overcome this fear. I’m just terrified.”
The clinic is open only once a month and currently sees seven patients. But there is already a waitlist. The clinic's doctors hope to be able to expand the clinic to help more people end the spinning and get back their normal lives.
With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr