One cause of sudden-onset vertigo


During an attempt to get my abysmal iron levels up with doses of 75-100 mg/day, I managed to bring a nice case of vertigo upon myself.

A dizzying spiral.
(Illustration by MRhea)

During my last and final attempt to get my abysmal iron levels up with doses of 75-100 mg/day, I managed to bring upon myself a nice case of vertigo. (It also caused cystic acne.)

After a week of the iron it was suddenly difficult to sit upright without vomiting, much less stand up. I considered going to the ER but the only other time I’d done that I had to wait four hours. By the time I got up the nerve to go, I felt well enough to cope.

I stopped taking the iron, obviously, and the vertigo improved to manageable levels but still kept hitting me a few times a day. I also had dry eyes, which I had learned earlier was what happens when my vitamin A levels fall, and since vitamin A was one of the nutrients that competes with iron, I thought I’d start with that. I tried 30,000 IU a day. The vertigo went away in about three days. I kept taking a smaller dose for a few weeks. I also took some vitamin B12, which research-wise is actually more closely associated with vertigo than vitamin A, but I recall being convinced it was the vitamin A that did it. Vertigo is also associated with vitamin A toxicity, but I know that wasn’t the case for me.

In the meantime I made an appointment with my then-doctor to make sure my ear wasn’t actually rotting or being colonized by something vile. When I brought up my experiences with the iron and vitamin A, I got that completely unresponsive, blank look I’ve only experienced when dealing with doctors. It was as if I hadn’t spoken at all. She said it was probably just a temporary inner-ear imbalance.

That behavior, plus her reluctance to send me to a specialist after a month of abdominal pain, made me switch to one of the hospital systems that President Obama praised in a July 2009 speech about changes in health care.

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