Well, I have good news about the vertigo. It's not all in my head. Or rather it is, but in my inner ear to be exact. I have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo () or ear crystals, said my doctor. Who knew the ear had crystals? Apparently, they can become dislodged and float around in the fluid of the inner ear canals, where they then send confusing signals to the brain about the body's position. The brain thinks the world is a tilt, thus the feeling of vertigo or the room spinning, I get most mornings and on and off throughout the day. "It's very common," said my internist reassuringly.
And the treatment? While I was hoping for a one-shot cure, sort of like a laser beam to explode the crystals, which sounded very Star Trek and plausible to me, the only real treatment is form of physical therapy to try to reposition the crystals and send them further down the ear canal. And often the feeling of vertigo gets better over time, I read.
"Is it related to perimenopause?" I asked my doctor. "Many things are exacerbated during perimenopause," she told me, but there's no known cause and effect for this condition during this time. So I have a prescription for a motion sickness drug, and an appointment with a specialist to rule out any more serious underlying causes, and a series of exercises I'm to try at home. If that doesn't work, there are more specialists who can help.
And of course, while I had the chance, I had to ask my favorite doctor about hormones and confess my desire to score an estrogen patch. "I think it's fine," she said. "You're still getting your period, and we prescribe estrogen patches all the time," for someone my age with my symptoms. She didn't see that there was that much cause for alarm, though I could sense that while she recommended estrogen, she wasn't going to push it, and I'd have to make up my own mind. So I left her office, still dizzy but hopeful.