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Dizziness and the Brain

12/26/2021 ~ Massive dizziness has plagued me for several months, I began writing about it back in July. At its worst when I sat up in bed I’d tip over, unable to keep my balance at all. Scary though it was, it would pass… I just had to wait.

Early on a swollen area behind my left ear was worrying. I ordered mushroom capsules, said to be good for the brain and to fight tumors. The capsules were pretty expensive and didn’t seem to help.

Then swollen ridges formed toward the base of my skull, see reddish area in picture above. The top of my head became a bit spongy in places and tender to the touch. The swelling/sponginess seemed related to a feeling of pressure on my brain that reminded me my paternal grandmother died from a stroke.

I found that soaking a washcloth in hot Epsom salts and applying it to the affected area (top of my head and base of my skull) reduced the swelling, but my hands got numb holding it in place.

To solve that problem I bought rolls of colored ace bandage to keep the washcloth in place. After an hour the swelling would be much reduced.

At the same time I was using vitamin C in large amounts. But, 4 grams at a time, a couple hours apart, was too much for my digestive system. To keep using that much I had to eat a lot of cheddar cheese to offset the effects of the vitamin C. Cheese is binding, vitamin C in large amounts is the opposite as you may know from experience.

It took me ages/months to settle on taking one 1,000 mg vitamin C an hour, every hour for 8 hours a day. That made all the difference.

At about the same time I began to wonder if calcium from the yogurt, Kefir, and cheese (eaten in rather massive amounts) was causing the problem. More yogurt than usual seemed like a good idea because of its good bacteria. I wanted to be sure my immune system was well stocked. Same with the Kefir.

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Having recognized that I’d upped my intake of calcium without matching magnesium, I began using a lot more magnesium.

That paid off. Well, that and the 1 gram of vitamin C an hour for several hours a day.

Because I was worried about my brain and tumors I didn’t pay attention to eruptions on my neck. A periodontist had said they often accompany dental infection. Basically, I have old dental implants that get infected if I don’t take enough vitamin C on a regular basis. Two decades ago I was going to have the implants removed but money was a problem; then when I had Medicaid I’d still have had to pay $1200, which I didn’t have.

A couple weeks ago I had swelling on the left side of my lower jaw. That was scary because the pocket of swelling hurt enough to make it hard to sleep.

I made myself pay attention to taking 1 gram of vitamin C every hour, not being haphazard about it, as I tended to be when it seemed helpful but not necessary in any dire way.

In three days the pocket of swelling was gone. I was feeling happy, especially when I cut my hair and noticed my white hair was no longer purely white: there was a lot of darker colored hair… somewhat miraculous, probably due to eating avocados every day and having a good supply of healthy gut bacteria.

Then everything changed. I was eating one of those wraps, like a pizza,but easier to microwave, when I felt something like a light pebble in my mouth.

It was easy enough to grab, so there I was confronted with a tooth between my fingers. My first thought was that I’d get a huge payment from whomever made the wrap. I was pretty happy. Then… I discovered a gap between my lower left teeth. It was my tooth.

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Upon inspection the tooth’s enamel was thin at the base. The top of the tooth looked perfect. The inside, however, was a different story. Whatever would have normally been in the tooth was decayed. The center of the decay was a lighter more yellowish color than the predominantly black decay.

Once it dried the inside wasn’t as dark

12/28/21 ~ Yesterday morning when I woke up I thought I was going to work on this page but my research from the day before came rushing to mind and I began to feel as if death was all too imminent. Let me show you part of what I found, without the predictive warnings of death:

Signs of Dental Infection Spreading

Fever
Headache
Dizziness
Fatigue
Skin flushing
Sweating/chills
Face swelling, making it difficult to open mouth, swallow, breathe correctly
Severe, painful gum swelling
Dehydration, leading to darker urine, less frequent urination
Increased heart rate
Increased breathing rate (25+ breaths a minute)
Increased body temperature
Stomach pain, diarrhea, and/or vomiting

Dizziness and fatigue were my main problems. As soon as there was gum swelling and pain I used vitamin C but not with enough conviction to eradicate what was causing the pain and swelling.

What worried me during the months of dizziness were swollen areas around my scalp that didn’t go away when I soaked my feet in Epsom salts, usually good at removing swelling. When the pockets of swelling began giving me a feeling of pressure around my head, I began fearing a stroke and used Epsom salt compresses on the area… held in place by the colored Ace bandages I mentioned. An hour with an Epsom salt compress in place vastly reduced the swelling. But I had no clue what caused the swelling until my research two days ago.

An abscess is a pocket of pus

I didn’t know you can get an abscess anywhere in your body. I’d only ever heard of an abscess in terms of teeth. I never thought about what an abscess was. It hadn’t occurred to me that an “abscess” was part of an impacted wisdom tooth I had when I was young, complete with so much swelling I could barely open my mouth. Hungry though I was the swelling prevented eating. I accepted that I had to take antibiotics before the wisdom tooth could be removed. I took them, they worked, and the wisdom tooth was removed.

I accepted all that without thinking about facts like when an area of your body becomes infected, your immune system fights the infection by sending white blood cells to the infected area.

I thought infection caused inflammation/swelling. But apparently in medical terms it’s the body’s reaction to infection that causes swelling. Something like this: your immune system detects staphylococcus bacteria (a leading cause of infection) and sends out white blood cells to kill the bacteria. Some of the white blood cells get killed in the fight, as does some of the staph bacteria, and tissue is damaged. Pus forms from the living and dead white blood cells, dead bacteria and dead tissue.

Apparently most abscesses (pockets of pus) are caused by an infection with staphylococcus bacteria. Apparently staph bacteria are the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections like boils (another name for abscesses), furuncles (not something I ever heard of before) and cellulitis.

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I never heard of cellulitis, but an odd thing happened on my ankle a few weeks back: swelling appeared on the right side of my right ankle, not the overall swelling that accompanies heart problems. After I crossed my ankles in bed, the swelling became itchy. I rubbed my ankles together and to my surprise the area became dark red. Now that I’ve seen pictures of cellulitis on google, the red area looked a lot like that. Only I didn’t think much of it. I just thought it odd that I’d never had a reaction like that from crossing my ankles before. When the redness, swelling and kind of crusty covering of the area didn’t go away I put Frankincense essential oil on it, and it cleared up in a couple days. Now, I think that was probably another result of my dental infection, just like the swellings around my scalp.

Incidentally, one bit of research I read said, “If your body sends out inflammatory cells when you are not sick or injured, you may have chronic inflammation. Inflammation is a symptom of many chronic diseases, such as arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease.” I forget which page I found that on.

Treatment

While google’s suggestion was antibiotics, I used vitamin C. As I mentioned, getting the dosage right wasn’t instant. I started out using 4 grams every few hours, with some indications that was going to cause diarrhea.

At a saturation level with vitamin C, like magnesium, the body reacts with diarrhea. It’s unlikely to happen during the day, for some reason, but taking a lot of vitamin C at night has, in my experience, been very likely to keep me awake dealing with diarrhea, which I try to avoid at all costs.

The problem was, swelling around my scalp wasn’t going away. It would seem to, there would be what seemed like improvement, but next day it was back just like before. No improvement.

I thought maybe the thing to do was to change my body pH over a longish period of time, rather than trying to blast the infection with vitamin C. That’s when I decided I’d take a gram of vitamin C every hour for 8 or so hours during the day, with quite a lot of liquid, and see how that worked. Plus, I began eating three or four navel oranges in the evening since vitamin C in fruit and veg doesn’t cause diarrhea.

That worked a treat!

But the idea of all that decay

After the tooth fell out, every time I thought about that tooth falling out, and how it was filled with black decay and a bit of slightly yellow material, I weirded out. I kept thinking, “How is all that decay inside the hole where my tooth’s root was, ever going to be cleared out?” It seemed that would be hopeless, so I thought I was probably going to die.

On the other hand

The fact was that in many ways I’m healthier than I’ve been in a couple years. For instance, color is coming back into my hair, which is pretty surprising. And my legs aren’t collapsing the way they were, so I’m able to walk with a more upright posture, though the atrophied muscles complain with sharp pain at being called back to work.

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But at the same time…

My cataracts are much worse. Vitamin C used to reduce them significantly, but recently my cataracts make plants in front of my window look blurred.

I’m hoping the blur is from little vitamin C being left after most I’ve taken is directed to the infection problem. That seems relatively likely, actually.

Going Forward

I’m sticking with a gram of vitamin C every hour during the day, or every couple of hours as long as it adds up to 8 to 10 or 11 hours of protection. Plus navel oranges at night to extend the protection without fear of diarrhea.

I’m soaking my feet in Epsom salts a few mornings a week, to soak out whatever debris the magnesium is able to wash from my system.

I’m taking a lot more magnesium, as well. Epsom salts is magnesium. It’s likely the underlying infection was worsened by the copious amounts of calcium I was eating: yogurt, kefir, cheese, in the belief that the more the better for my immune system.

I’m holding salt water in my mouth in the evening while I watch episodes so the salt soaks out the debris from the tooth’s socket.

I’m still sleeping an hour or two more a day than I did before the dizziness. I feel the best in the morning when I wake up, so the sleep appears to be vastly healing. Right now, for instance, the “stress” of working on this page is making my head feel tingly and as if there’s an all over pressure. So… I think it’s time to take a break and relax.

The role of stress

I’m pretty sure the infection got out of hand because of stress. I began writing about the stress in October. There was a lot of stress for the 11 years I was fighting Wells Fargo’s foreclosure of my home. Basically, Wells Fargo qualified me for interest reduction, then reneged and used false affidavits, which the Court entirely bought. After I was evicted by a sheriff from my home in early 2019 I lived at Motel 6 for months through the help of friends on Twitter. Then I got a totally beautiful, new apartment. But, the sewer for the whole building backed up into my apartment and property management decided to blame me, the only Anglo woman in the building. The fact I was in my 70s didn’t seem to dampen their enthusiasm for saying I’d put sanitary napkins down the toilet. It took ages for them to make the contractors put a camera into the sewer… where they found a bit of poorly cut pipe catching tissue as it passed, until nothing passed.

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The buildup in the sewer beneath my apartment had been causing an ever more aggressive bubbling from my kitchen sink, which maintenance ascribed to the wind. I thought it was more likely sewer gas than wind, and part of the reason I wasn’t feeling well.

Even after the true cause of the sewer backups was identified property management kept threatening to evict me, and actually trying. It was so stressful, especially after having just been evicted from my home.

For more than two years property management kept up its threats. The stress would knock me back so badly I could barely get out of bed. It affected my breathing and gave me chest pain.

Then I got a wonderful new Dell, XPS computer, which turned out to be a dud and Dell’s techs decided to make Karen jokes. It was beyond distressing.

I have a page about stress, and how it can break you. Recently when I was looking at it I realized how accurate it is.

Now I have a new LG Gram 16, thanks to Jeff Bezos creating Amazon and one of the Amazon credit cards offering 18 months to pay for a purchase over $500. Jeff Bezos is my hero. I’m sure there are a lot of housebound people who are equally grateful that he created Amazon, restoring our ability to shop for ourselves!

Vertigo and the vestibulo-cochlear nerve,

I didn’t use the medical term vertigo up until now because I wasn’t diagnosed with vertigo: I didn’t go to a doctor; I didn’t want a prescription.

However, information is good so I’m adding that MedLinePlus says vertigo is a sensation of motion that is often described as dizziness and is not the same as being lightheaded, and people with vertigo feel as if they are spinning or moving, or the world is spinning around them.

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MedLinePlus goes on:

There are two types of vertigo, peripheral and central vertigo.Peripheral vertigo is due to a problem in the part of the inner ear that controls balance. These areas are called the vestibular labyrinth, or semicircular canals. The problem may also involve the vestibular nerve. This is the nerve between the inner ear and the brain stem.Peripheral vertigo may be caused by:

  • Benign positional vertigo
  • Certain medicines, such as aminoglycoside antibiotics, cisplatin, diuretics, or salicylates, which are toxic to the inner ear structures
  • Injury (such as head injury)
  • Inflammation of the vestibular nerve (neuronitis)
  • Irritation and swelling of the inner ear (labyrinthitis)
  • Meniere disease
  • Pressure on the vestibular nerve, usually from a noncancerous tumor such as a meningioma or schwannoma

Central vertigo is due to a problem in the brain, usually in the brain stem or the back part of the brain (cerebellum).

Central vertigo may be caused by:

Blood vessel disease
Certain drugs, such as anticonvulsants, aspirin, and alcohol
Multiple sclerosis
Seizures (rarely)
Stroke
Tumors (cancerous or noncancerous)
Vestibular migraine, a type of migraine headache

Now that my tooth fell out and I’m aware of the infection, inflammation, and abscess (pus) I can understand that the swollen area at the back of my head, at the base of my skull, was blocking normal blood flow and causing dizziness, and that the swelling behind my ear was putting pressure on my vestibulo-cochlear nerve and causing dizziness, as well as an increase in tinnitus, which I mainly ignored due to the more serious dizziness problem.

Infection was probably causing an abscess behind my left ear where I felt swelling (the tooth that fell out was on the left side of my jaw). The swelling was putting pressure on my vestibular nerve, which I discuss in a post related to tinnitus. I’d had a glimpse of all this, but until my tooth fell out I didn’t put all the pieces properly into place.

Fear of stroke

My fear of stroke was not without reason, though I didn’t fully understand how a stroke might be possible.
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Pontine stroke is a type of stroke that happens when there’s decreased blood supply to the brain stem. The swelling I felt at the back of my head, that made it harder to move my head, was causing a dangerous kind of pressure on my blood supply to my brain. What scared me most after my tooth fell out, was that the dizziness thing had been going on since at least July, and it was now the end of December.

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Symptoms of pontine stroke may include difficulty in breathing, difficulty in speaking, difficulty with swallowing and chewing, complete or partial loss of hearing, paralysis, weakness of the limbs, loss of sensation or numbness and blurred vision. Dizziness and vertigo are two of the most common pontine stroke symptoms. These two symptoms are not necessarily accompanied by a weak feeling in one side of the body.

I kept paying attention to my speech, and as it was staying pretty normal, I put fear of stroke to the side.

Dizziness, vertigo and balance

The website where I found the basic image at the top of this page explains some things in a clear way:

The basic background of the head and neck junction is essential to understand. The lower 2/3 of your neck is fairly stable. However, the upper 1/3 of your neck is much more mobile and complex. It also has major influence relating to brain communication, as it functions similar to a relay station, so it’s incredibly important.

When you have any type of injury, even if it’s a minor fall or accident from years ago, it can cause damage to the ligaments (the ‘glue’) that support your neck alignment. If this occurs, your head and neck can become slightly misaligned as shown in the picture above. This causes 3 main problems:

  1. The muscles become imbalanced, affecting signals from the muscles back to the brain. The suboccipital muscles (right where your head meets your neck) have high amounts of proprioceptive input, which tells your brain where your head is in space. If this mechanism isn’t working right, you may become dizzy.

  2. The same suboccipital muscles have inputs from the vestibular (balance), oculomotor (eye movement), and visual pathways. When any of these nervous system tracts have interference, dizziness and vertigo may be present.

  3. Inflammation and irritation near the brainstem can interfere with the information signaling between your brain and body, so signals from your feet that go to your brain may not be functioning optimally. This can cause challenges with balance.

A specific exam from a NUCCA doctor can tell you whether this type of minor misalignment is contributing to your neck pain. If it is, a precise, gentle correction to the neck based on biomechanical calculations can restore head and neck alignment to:

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  • restore proper muscle tone

  • resolve neck-head mismatch signals which cause dizziness

  • improve brain-body communication to improve balance

 

 

 

 

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