Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Vertigo Epidemic - October 2012

I wanted to send a short update. Over the past 3 months I have had an unusual number of patients with the chief complaint of acute vertigo. What was most puzzling was that these episodes lasted not for seconds, but for days, weeks or months, not just the fleeting experiences many people have. At first, I thought it was only a fluke. However, over time, the number in my practice grew to be truly unusual. I searched in a variety of places to see if there were any reported causes to account for this increase in incidence but have not found one.

After these few months, I sent a query to a broad number of people, asking if anyone had experienced this vertigo. It was my intention to assess the incidence of vertigo from that sampling of readers. To do that, I asked you not to describe patients but yourselves. I found an incidence of 48 people who personally experienced vertigo out of every 1,000 people who viewed/opened the email. In other words, the reported incidence of vertigo reached nearly 5%, which is a much higher incidence than typically expected. This number could well have been higher if we consider that some individuals who had vertigo and who viewed the notice opted not to reply. This large population inquiry was proof for me that we are in sort of epidemic related to acute vertigo, though it is odd that no one is speaking of it. Any number over 1% is an unusually high number, and should be noted.

People asked me what I was doing about it on the treatment side. I wanted to add that the most common treatment was Cocculus indicus, with its attendant symptoms, which while are commonly and easily described in the materia medica, are often confused with other remedies. Dizziness as if drunk, episodic vertigo where one has to hold on to something, a recurring light-headedness that does not evolve all the way to vertigo at other times, internal trembling, weakness, worse from exertion, are all the more common symptoms here.
Good luck, and thank you for sending me your personal medical experiences. 

Write to us if you would like to share more broadly about recent vertigo cases of your patients this time around. Thank you for your interest and willingness to share you and your patients’ experiences.

Paul Herscu ND, MPH


  1. Hello Dr. Herscu,
    I've had several people (about 6) come to me over the past 3-4 months with vertigo as a chief concern - not relieved with the Dix-Hallpike maneuver (one case after physical activity). It does seem odd, and this is the first I'm reading of this from you. I don't know what is going on either, but I observed many people experiencing symptoms directly correlated with the M-class, Z-class, etc. solar flares we've had on & off since June, and I personally experienced severe symptoms (albeit, not vertigo) with solar flare activity this summer - one week of major activity in particular. Please keep me/us posted as to what you discover. I'll pay more attention and try to piece things together as well. Thank you ~ Jill Cole, ND

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  3. I had my first bout of vertigo in 2007, houghton I had poisoned myself giving dogs a flea bath. The episodes increased to once weekly, then I was transported to ER with a sudden severe headache. X-rays showed mASSIVE sinus infection in all 8 cavities. Since the. I've fought with healthcare, finally getting a 40 day dose of Bactrim, which gave me one year free of vertigo! I smoke, and now vertigo is back and without insurance I suffer. In or around 2007 they began to put additive in cigarettes to prevent them from burning. I am wondering could this be causing the sudden increase!? I never even heard of vertigo before and now I know too many people who experience this and the list is ever growing.