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Dizziness is in almost all cases, the first MS symptom experienced. Nevertheless, most people have a hard time making the difference between vertigo and dizziness, as they usually describe what they are feeling in a subjective way – what one experiences and the way he or she expresses himself or herself is entirely different from the way another person does it. There are cases when the dizziness is not even related to MS – which makes the diagnosis much more difficult.

Even if diagnosing multiple sclerosis doesn’t imply dizziness as an only symptom, this is something very common in this disease, and has a rather high rate of recurrence. Dizziness is a result of the demylination due to Multiple Sclerosis, demyelination that affects the brain and spinal cord’s surrounding and protective tissue. The symptom tends to alternate between exacerbations and remissions, and during each episode, the severity of it varies (from mild, to moderate, to severe).

Dizziness, as a symptom, is experienced by only 5% of all patients in the early stages of MS, but according to studies, over 50% of all patients will experience feelings of vertigo and dizziness during the course of the disease.  Studies also indicated about 10% of MS patients also experience hearing loss, which only exacerbates more the feelings of dizziness and vertigo.

For Multiple Sclerosis patients, dizziness is commonly experienced as lightheadedness or feeling faint; vertigo, on the other hand, is a feeling that makes one feel like the ground is rushing up or spinning to meet one. Needless to say, vertigo is much worse, but thankfully, is very rare in MS patients (according to studies under 20% of all multiple sclerosis patients suffer from it); dizziness, on the other hand, is a rather common symptom, but much more easily manageable.

The management of this symptom is done through therapy and medication. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices for the treatment of dizziness in MS, so all sufferers are bound to find a treatment that works best for them.  When it comes to medication, a very commonly prescribed one is Dramamine (Meclizine) a medication that is also used by people who suffer from motion sickness. Another very potent and successful drug for some multiple sclerosis patients proved to be Scopoderm ( hyoscine) that is administered as a patch that’s placed behind the ear. Of course, these medication are used for mild symptoms of dizziness. For multiple sclerosis patients with high levels, a course of corticosteroids is the usual and recommended treatment.

As already said, dizziness management isn’t made only through the use of medication. Today, for multiple sclerosis patients, Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is the most popular non-drug treatment. In this type of therapy, the patient and therapist work together to learn and retain the way the patient’s brain interprets and processes the information received from the vestibular system, thus reducing brain damage due to MS.  Until now, this type of treatment proved to be very successful, and most patients don’t need medical interventions to overcome their dizziness after it.

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0 # Susan 2013-06-15 18:45
Vertigo is rare in people with MS? I think they need to do a new study. I'm 47 & was diagnosed with MS at 21. I have vertigo, not dizziness. For me, the room spins & I have to lie down & try to sleep. I can do nothing but lie down as I can do no other functions even speak. I can take meclizine & often have to take 2 which helps me sleep. I've talked with many other people with MS & most of them experience the same thing; the room spinning, not merely faintness or light headed. Few I spoke with said they have dizziness, most I spoke with said the room spins for them. So I think a new study should be done. I also know that when I asked these people if they experienced vertigo or dizziness they didn't understand the difference. I had to ask do u exper faintness or lightheadedness or does the room spin. That was when I got clear answers otherwise most don't know what vertigo is & think any imbalance is called dizzy
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0 # Debbie 2015-01-15 23:29
Thank you for your post- you took teh words right out of my mouth, the ones I couldn't speak because the vertigo and fatigue is so incredibly bad. I have tears, thank you for understanding and also your insight. I'm going to ask my dr about the med you mentioned. Thank you and well wishes to you!!
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