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drfunko's avatar

Symptoms: Unsteady Balance, Mild Head/Ear/Eye Aches — What's Causing This?

Asked by drfunko (140points) March 15th, 2010

I’m 21, male, and 126lbs. For just over a month now, my head has been feeling weird. It started off with slight headaches (maybe a 3 or 4 out of 10, with 10 being the worst) which would happen anywhere on my head, but always on one side only — they would recur in waves, lasting for about 20–30 minutes and going away for another 20–30 minutes, pretty much all day long. Later on, I started getting earaches and a bit of dizziness/unsteadyness once in a while when a headache hit, but not every time (I could still walk, but it felt like I was on a rocking boat, not like “the room was spinning”). Also, I could feel pain behind my eyes sometimes, always in one eye only, making me want to massage my eyes. On one occasion while experiencing all these symptoms early on, I had diarrhea, but I think it may have been something I ate and unrelated.

Since it seemed to be getting worse, and I’d had these symptoms for a several days, I went to the emergency room at my local university; they looked in my ears, checked my pulse, etc. and found nothing. The doctor told me to take pain killers for the headaches and said if the symptoms continued, I should see my family doctor; if they got worse, I should come back to the ER. I didn’t think the headaches were bad enough to use pain killers, so I only used them occasionally.

At present, it has been a few weeks since that trip to the ER, and I’m still not feeling normal. Now, the headaches are pretty much gone, occurring only a few times a day and feeling as slight as if someone were simply touching my head; I haven’t had an earache in about 2 or 3 days, nor any eye pain — it seems like those symptoms are negligible now. However, the dizzyness/unsteadyness has definitely increased: I feel like I’m swaying back and forth on a rocking boat all the time now, whether standing up, sitting, walking, or lying down, or with my head in any position. I can still walk perfectly, I have no problems with fine motor skills or hand-eye-coordination, and it’s not enough to make me vomit or feel nauseous — if you saw me, you would have no idea that I’m having balance issues.

I did a little Google searching, but couldn’t find anything that matched exactly what I’m feeling. While I was out today, I stopped in a pharmacy and used their blood pressure machine to take a few readings: the first one was 123/65, pulse 71bpm; the second was 125/73, pulse 81bpm; the third was 116/72, pulse 72bpm; I did a few more readings after that, in which the systolic pressure dropped further to around 109, but I neglected to write those numbers down (for your information, I do get moderate exercise, but I don’t do any high-intensity sports/running/biking/swimming/etc). I understand these readings, but I’m not sure if they are good or bad. I’ll try to get another reading in the next couple of days to see if there is a change, as well as make an appointment with my doctor to discuss this with him.

Basically, I’m feeling quite unsteady right now, I’ve never had this before, and I’m not sure what’s causing it.

Do you have any ideas about what might be causing this? Have you ever experienced this? Do you know of any medications, diets or exercises that might help?


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21 Answers

faye's avatar

Your BP is perfectly normal. You should ask your doctor to check for inner ear conditions. Your sense of balance depends on your inner ears.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Your dizziness is most likely due to a middle ear infection.

The headaches are probably earaches.

There seems to be more than that going on.
Go see your doctor for a complete work-up.
You will probably require antibiotics to treat the infection.
I am not an MD

naffion's avatar

It sounds like an inner ear fluid imbalance to me.
You didn’t mention if there were any problems with your hearing, so it might not be it.
Anyway, it’s worth checking out and perhaps you could try seeing a specialist.
I hope you have it diagnosed and treated soon.

drfunko's avatar

Thanks. @naffion No, I don’t have any problems with my hearing.

augustlan's avatar

My daughter had very similar symptoms, for no apparent reason. She was eventually referred to a neurologist, who diagnosed her with a migraine syndrome. She got on some medication and it worked wonders for her. Good luck, and welcome to Fluther!

autumn43's avatar

It could be migraine type headaches or it could be inner ear. There are inner ear conditions that aren’t related to infection, such as Meniere’s disease. Everyone that said you need to go to the doctor is right.

One thing you could try for the unsteadiness is dramamine. Also, make sure you are drinking enough fluids.

But please go to your doctor. Good luck and feel better soon!

Pandora's avatar

It could also be one of your sinuses are clogged. Headaches behind and eye are usually due to sinuses. My husband suffers from his sinuses for years. You may also be getting drainage from your sinuses to the ears. Next time this happens take an antihistimine. This will help dry out your sinuses and your ears. If this doesn’t seem to do the trick than check with your doctor for an inner ear balance problem. It can also go the other way. Your inner ear can cause you to get headaches when its off balance. Good Luck.

thriftymaid's avatar

Ear infection or vertigo.

JLeslie's avatar

I think there is a good chance doctors will never figure it out, unless it gets much worse but I hope that it gets better or that a doctor does diagnose you and help you. Having started off being negative, sorry for that, the ER only cares that you do not die on their watch, so you might try seeing an ear, nose, and throat doctor or a neurologist as others have suggested. Maybe you had an infectious disease of some sort caused by a virus or bacteria?

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Call your family doctor and see if you can get a referral to a regular family practitioner or an ENT specialist near your university. You can have ear and sinus problems without your hearing being affected, or your sinuses being clogged. Or, call your insurance company and see who they can refer you to in the area that will take your insurance.

Trillian's avatar

Sounds like inner ear. Could be middle ear. Could be fluid related, which can really throw your balance off. You don’t say if you took the ER doc’s advice. Start with your MO, and go from there. You may need to see the ENT doc. If it is an inner ear infection, you want to catch it and get on antibiotics ASAP. The bone is very very thin right there, and if an infection were to eat through, well, I’ll let your doctor tell you about it.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Your SO could be poisoning you

You’re too new at Fluther to be suffering Fluther poisoning or Fluther-related sleep deprivation (give it time)

You’re in love (or your SO found out that you’re in love with someone else, with expected consequences)

I’m sure we can come up with all sorts of ‘answers’. If you want a good one, I’d consult a physician. In person.

LeotCol's avatar

One thing a lot of people can overlook would be eyesight. People can get headaches and dizziness from not having corrective lenses. How’s your eyesight?

drfunko's avatar

Got a doctor’s appointment for Wednesday morning. I’ll post again with the results, so anyone who searches for these symptoms in the future can get some answers.

@LeotCol, my vision is great, 20/20.

drfunko's avatar

I went to the doctor a few hours ago. He looked in my ears and said he saw evidence of a head cold that had happened within the last couple of months, as well as a little fluid (behind the eardrum, I guess). He said I should take Gravol (over-the-counter, 50mg, 2–3 times daily), the stuff you take when you’re vomiting, as that would relieve the unsteady balance/dizziness issues. He also asked if there was a history of thyroid problems in my family, which I confirmed (Mom has thyroid problems), so he sent me to a lab across the street for a blood test. I assume I’ll hear the results soon if they’re bad. Before leaving, I asked if he thought the problems would go away over time — he said yes, the body is capable of compensating/calibrating itself to changes such as balance over time.

I read on another medical website that studies have shown anxiety over the symptoms can worsen them and/or make them take longer to go away, while people who remain calm and expect recovery will usually recover faster. I agree, mental states do seem to affect the body, so I’m trying to be relaxed about it.

JLeslie's avatar

@drfunko Thanks for the update. I feel encouraged that he found something, makes it less of a mystery. I feel very optimistic for you :).

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@drfunko if it will help you to ease into a relaxed / calmer state of mind…

You Have Nothing to Worry About
One of two things is happening:
1. You are sick, or
2. You are not sick.

If you’re not sick, you have nothing to worry about. If you’re sick, then:
1. You will get better, or
2. You won’t get better.

If you’re going to get better, then you have nothing to worry about. If you’re not going to get better, then:
1. You’re going to die in a long time, or
2. You’re going to die right away.

If you’re not going to die for a long time, then you have nothing to worry about. Otherwise…
1. You’re going to slip away painlessly and soon, or
2. You’re going to die in a lot of pain, soon.

If you’re going to die painlessly and soon, then you have nothing to worry about. If you’re going to die in a lot of pain soon, then the only thing you have to worry about is making sure the doctor prescribes a lot of painkillers.

So you can see, you really have nothing much to worry about. It never did me a damn bit of good, anyway.

Good luck.

drfunko's avatar

@CyanoticWasp That’s awesome, just my kind of thinking! Worrying is such a waste of time and energy.

Thanks, everyone, for the support.

TheOnlyException's avatar

I love @CyanoticWasp ‘s answer.
Also I have your symptoms @drfunko! I have been considering that it is an inner ear problem or a sinus thing.

nasa42's avatar

I have very similar symptoms. For about a week and a half I have been having post nasal drip to where it stays in my chest and I have a slight wheeze. When I force cough, a little clear mucous ball will come up. Otherwise I don’t feel sick. I was recently diagnosed with high bp and was prescribed BenicorHCL. My psychiatrist also took me off half my clonozopam for anxiety and added Generic Buspar. I’m just starting to stretch again and walk a bit as my bp has gone down pretty fast. Last night, I was stretching and when I turned my head to the side an overwhelming feeling of dysequilibrium hit me. My hands went out to try to stabilize me but it felt like something was pushing me forward. I thought I just moved too quickly and expected it to pass but its been 27 hrs and it hasn’t. I am completely off balance and veer to the left when walking. My right ear feels a bit odd. I tried the ear rocks repositioning exercises and they didn’t help. Pharmascist thinks it could be side effect of bp meds but says its kinda long for that. Thinking of getting a bp friendly decongestant. I already take zyrtec daily.this is just SO WEIRD. Ideas anyone? I have had a slight headache in te back of my head right above the indentation and my scalp is sore to the touch. By googling, I’ve seen migraines, ear rock slide, ear congestion, stroke and even autoimmune disease. I do have systemic lupus. Ill call the doc Monday but its sat and it doesn’t seem ER necessitated. Thank you!

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