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Rosemary Visits the Emergency Room

Rosemary Visits Georgia in the Emergency Room

While getting her groceries out of her car, Riley the neighbor boy who mows Rosemary’s lawn, offers to help her carry her groceries into the house.  This is a little unlike him, he does not usually talk much; he always has his headphones in his ears.  Rosemary looks toward Riley’s house and sure enough, there is his father smiling and waving at her.  Rosemary accepts Riley’s offer for help and gives him a two-dollar tip.  She knows that he was sent over, but she may as well reward good behavior regardless of the reason.  Rosemary arrives in the house to find that there is a message on her answering machine – the one her son bought her.

Her friend Georgia is in the emergency room.  Rosemary leaves the house once more to go to her friend.  Rosemary became friends with Georgia 10 years ago.  They met accidently while shopping for shoes at the mall. Georgia is a 75 year-old volunteer ballroom dancing teacher who is light on her feet and dresses like a southern bell.  Georgia’s father taught her how to dance; she has always loved the freedom it provides.  Rosemary has watched Georgia dance many times; she looks so beautiful out there.  Of late, Georgia has been feeling dizzy.  Her doctor diagnosed her with vertigo resulting from inflammation in her inner ear.  Not much to do for it except take anti-nausea pills according to Georgia.  These pills make her sleepy and she still feels dizzy.

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is a sensation of rotational spinning while a person is stationary; some people describe standing still on dry ground with the feeling of being on a ship in rough seas.  This sensation can cause dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.  Vertigo can occur as a symptom of a condition in one of three separate areas.

Inner Ear

Vertigo may occur when there is an inner ear disturbance such as inflammation, head injury, or Meniere’s disease.  Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes ringing in the ears as well as vertigo.  Inflammation of the inner ear can result from bacterial or viral infection as well seasonal allergies.

Vestibular Nerve

The vestibular nerve connects the inner ear with the brain.  The vestibular nerve can become inflamed or compressed resulting in vertigo.


Vertigo may also be a problem with the brainstem or cerebellum.  The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that allows the body to know its position in relation to rest of its surroundings, and also assists the body with coordination of movement.  Vertigo resulting from the brainstem or cerebellum can occur as a result of a stroke, medications, alcohol, migraine headaches, and multiple sclerosis.

Vertigo can come and go or stick around for a long time.  Anyone that has vertigo is at risk for falls and should avoid driving.  Treatment for vertigo includes antihistamines, such as Meclizine and Benadryl.  Antihistamines suppress the vomiting center of the brain and decrease the sensitivity of neurons of the inner ear to control the symptoms of vertigo.  The nausea medicine, scopolamine, is very effective in preventing motion sickness caused by vertigo. Scopolamine is generally supplied as a patch that is worn on the skin.  Benzodiazepines such as Ativan, are primary used to control anxiety, but have proven helpful for treating motion sickness and vertigo.

If someone you know experiences symptoms of dizziness, weakness, difficulty coordinating body movements, or difficulty speaking, they should seek emergency care immediately to rule out life threatening conditions such as a stroke.

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Comments (0) • Posted April 4, 2011

Author: Julie L., BS, BSN, RN
Julie has worked as a Registered Nurse in the emergency room, as a clinical nursing instructor, and as a director of clinical services in home care.

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