ZocdocAnswersWhat could cause me to wake up from a good night's sleep and see the room spinning?

Question

What could cause me to wake up from a good night's sleep and see the room spinning?

I am a 78 year old retired man. I have never had this happen to me before and I was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. I do take medication for high blood pressure. I sat up in bed and the spinning eventually stopped. That same day I took a nap and it happened again when I woke up. The next night, I slept upright in a recliner and I was normal/fine when I woke up. The third night I slept in bed and woke up to a spinning room again. It eventually goes away and I experience no dizziness during any part of my waking hours. I also have a pain in my right arm and shoulder that may be a rotator cuff injury. Could that be causing a pinched nerve that causes the dizziness if I sleep on it wrong?

Answer

It sounds like you have a case of vertigo. Vertigo is the sensation of spinning that occurs when there is a problem with the part of the inner ear, or a problem with the part of the brain that senses motion. This cause an uncomfortable sensation where the room spins. It can be accompanied by nausea and sometimes patients that experience vertigo even vomit. The most common cause of vertigo is something called Benign Positional Vertigo. This is an problem where the sensors in the inner ear go awry, and tell the brain that the body is spinning. Another possible cause of this problem is Meniere's disease, a condition where patients have vertigo, ringing in the ear and loss of hearing loss. Finally, rare brain tumors can cause vertigo, if they are growing a specific place in the brain. There are 2 different types of doctors that see and diagnose patients with vertigo: Ear-Nose-and throat (ENT) doctors and neurologists. It is your call, but if I was sending my dad to the doctor, I would probably send them to an ENT first. The ENT doc can do a comprehensive ear exam and diagnose the most common types of vertigo. If there is any concern for a problem with the brain that has resulted in vertigo, then you should get a referral to see a neurologist.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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