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Vertigo on the Piano Bench?

Posted By: ClsscLib

Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/20/15 06:48 PM

I've never had vertigo issues before, but I had an attack while practicing piano Saturday night that was so bad I thought I was having a stroke. Went to local Emergency Room, they ran a full battery of tests: Not a stroke, not a heart attack -- but possibly an inner ear disorder likely to recur.

It did recur, late last evening -- again while I was practicing piano. Not quite as severe, but much longer. The world was spinning around me nearly uncontrollably for an hour, causing nausea and other bad stuff. Walking was impossible. Crawling was hard.

Today I've been trying without much luck to get in to see a specialist. I want to put a stake in this STAT.

Has anyone else here ever encountered vertigo issues while playing the piano? That both attacks hit me while practicing may be sheer coincidence. On the other hand, I've been trying to explain to my better half that the risk factors would be reduced if I got a larger, more substantial piano...
Posted By: Tom Christian

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/20/15 07:08 PM

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
On the other hand, I've been trying to explain to my better half that the risk factors would be reduced if I got a larger, more substantial piano...

At the risk of negating a perfect rationalization to get a new Jansen artist bench, you might want to read this .
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/20/15 07:43 PM

Thanks, Tom -- that's very helpful.
Posted By: jimb100

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/20/15 08:51 PM

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
I've never had vertigo issues before, but I had an attack while practicing piano Saturday night that was so bad I thought I was having a stroke. Went to local Emergency Room, they ran a full battery of tests: Not a stroke, not a heart attack -- but possibly an inner ear disorder likely to recur.

It did recur, late last evening -- again while I was practicing piano. Not quite as severe, but much longer. The world was spinning around me nearly uncontrollably for an hour, causing nausea and other bad stuff. Walking was impossible. Crawling was hard.

Today I've been trying without much luck to get in to see a specialist. I want to put a stake in this STAT.

Has anyone else here ever encountered vertigo issues while playing the piano? That both attacks hit me while practicing may be sheer coincidence. On the other hand, I've been trying to explain to my better half that the risk factors would be reduced if I got a larger, more substantial piano...


Sounds like the onset of panic/anxiety attack. Additional symptoms- sweaty palms, heart racing, narrowing vision, feeling of 'tightness' around the head. If you Google 'anxiety attack' you'll see a more complete list.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/20/15 08:58 PM

Originally Posted by jimb100
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
I've never had vertigo issues before, but I had an attack while practicing piano Saturday night that was so bad I thought I was having a stroke. Went to local Emergency Room, they ran a full battery of tests: Not a stroke, not a heart attack -- but possibly an inner ear disorder likely to recur.

It did recur, late last evening -- again while I was practicing piano. Not quite as severe, but much longer. The world was spinning around me nearly uncontrollably for an hour, causing nausea and other bad stuff. Walking was impossible. Crawling was hard.

Today I've been trying without much luck to get in to see a specialist. I want to put a stake in this STAT.

Has anyone else here ever encountered vertigo issues while playing the piano? That both attacks hit me while practicing may be sheer coincidence. On the other hand, I've been trying to explain to my better half that the risk factors would be reduced if I got a larger, more substantial piano...


Sounds like the onset of panic/anxiety attack. Additional symptoms- sweaty palms, heart racing, narrowing vision, feeling of 'tightness' around the head. If you Google 'anxiety attack' you'll see a more complete list.


With respect, Jimb, I think Tom is closer to the mark. There just weren't any circumstances to trigger a panic/anxiety attack. These were ordinary practice sessions, with no one else in the room.

OTOH, what happened lines up squarely with the sort of inner-ear vertigo issues described in the link Tom provided.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/20/15 11:39 PM

I've had a couple episodes at the piano, but I've had them elsewhere as well, so I knew what was happening. Still, quite surprising!

And certainly, a nice stable bench is a better perch! I imagine I'd have flown sideways from one of those 3-legged spinning topped piano stools!
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 12:12 AM

Originally Posted by malkin
I've had a couple episodes at the piano, but I've had them elsewhere as well, so I knew what was happening. Still, quite surprising!

And certainly, a nice stable bench is a better perch! I imagine I'd have flown sideways from one of those 3-legged spinning topped piano stools!


Malkin, did you receive medical attention for this issue? If so, what general course of action was pursued? (I see the doc tomorrow.)
Posted By: malkin

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 12:30 AM

I had a sinus infection at the time and it resolved so I didn't see the doc for it. (I bug my doc about too many other health issues so I wanted to give this one a chance.) Both of my events followed rapid head movement from left to right.

If you're having vertigo with no other symptoms just describe the event to your doctor by saying what you were doing, what it felt like, how long it lasted, etc.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 12:37 AM

So I shall do. I'm hoping the doctor doesn't say something silly like, "It's simple and obvious -- all you have to do is stop playing the piano!"

I think she already knows, though, that the success of such a regimen is contraindicated...
Posted By: SoundThumb

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 02:10 AM

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
On the other hand, I've been trying to explain to my better half that the risk factors would be reduced if I got a larger, more substantial piano...


You are absolutely correct. It can be scientifically proven that increasing the mass of the piano will have a calming effect on the fluid in your inner ear. If you need help with this, I can send you some equations.
Posted By: outo

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 03:41 AM

It can be something quite harmless, a slight infection or simply stiff neck issues, which sometimes cause such symptoms for me at work. The symptoms often get worse when you start worrying about them, people can actually develope panic attacks from something harmless when they do not know what's going on.

A better piano is definitely the best cure for any health issue!
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 10:24 AM

Originally Posted by outo
It can be something quite harmless, a slight infection or simply stiff neck issues, which sometimes cause such symptoms for me at work. The symptoms often get worse when you start worrying about them, people can actually develope panic attacks from something harmless when they do not know what's going on.

A better piano is definitely the best cure for any health issue!


I suspect you're absolutely right that worrying about the symptoms may make them worse.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 11:32 AM

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
So I shall do. I'm hoping the doctor doesn't say something silly like, "It's simple and obvious -- all you have to do is stop playing the piano!"


If that happens you can tell her that it might not be simple, but it is obvious for you to find another doctor!
Posted By: ebonykawai

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 06:36 PM

You have some sort of inner ear thing going on. It might just be a virus, that went through my building at work a few years ago. Everyone was getting vertigo, then it burned out. If your hearing is not affected and you haven't noticed anything different going on with your hearing, I wouldn't worry too much. I had a form of Meniere's disease after a car accident in which I broke my neck. A couple years after the accident, I started getting vertigo and losing some hearing. It was really bad for a while, but ended up going away and I'm perfectly fine now, but with some hearing loss. But this was due to the accident and damage that occurred therein, and my hearing was affected before the vertigo started. So I would think that you probably have a virus, and since the inner ear is very sensitive, the resonating sound from the piano might be inducing the vertigo. Try wearing light ear plugs and see if it helps. It helped me a good deal until my issue resolved. Hopefully yours goes away shortly.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 09:06 PM

Thanks, Malkin and EbonyKawai.

If it was a virus, it was one that produced no notable symptoms other than the vertigo itself. I suppose that's possible.

Another possibility is motion-induced benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which occurs in people of a certain age -- and I'm getting to be one. I have a suspicion that the incidents have been provoked by practicing heavily a couple of pieces that have me making sharp, quick looks down and to the left -- away from the music stand and towards the lower bass keys -- in order to help secure big jumps in the left hand. My hypothesis is that those movements dislodge calcium crystals in the inner ear, leading to what I refer to technically as balance fubarage.

The good news is that, if it is indeed BPPV, the disorder is usually quite treatable without surgery or medications.

I can't get an appointment with a specialist earlier than late next week, but I will figure this out. I hope...
Posted By: malkin

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/21/15 11:49 PM

I hope so too!
Posted By: irvington922

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/28/15 03:21 PM

I had vertigo symptoms, went to my dr who explained the entire vertigo cause and effect, and recommended treatment. Vertigo is not caused by a virus - vertigo is damage to a part of the inner ear, and is brought on by many possible things. A virus can trigger a vertigo event, but can't be the cause. In my case, I have a vertigo condition in my right inner, and it was triggered by movement from standing to lying down to exercise or getting up quickly from the floor or from a sitting position. Sitting on a bench could be causing an imbalance, which could also trigger a vertigo event, if you have the vertigo condition in your inner ear - but you have to have the vertigo condition to begin with. Your case may be similar or different - and only an exam by a dr can tell.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/28/15 04:11 PM

Originally Posted by irvington922
Vertigo is not caused by a virus - vertigo is damage to a part of the inner ear, and is brought on by many possible things. A virus can trigger a vertigo event, but can't be the cause.

The most common cause of acute, short-lived, severe vertigo in younger people is viral labyrinthitis (more strictly, vestibular neuritis). Yes, it is viral, and is often preceded by viral URTI.

I had it once when in my early twenties. I felt like I was attached to a spinning wheel, and couldn't even sit up in bed without toppling over, and kept throwing up. The only slight relief I had was when I lay perfectly still, without twitching a muscle.

It lasted about three days. And I've not had it again since.

BTW, this kind of vertigo is different from BPPV.

Incidentally, the sensation of feeling faint (as if about to pass out) when getting up suddenly from sitting, or from lying down, is often mistaken for 'vertigo'. It isn't vertigo - it's due to postural (or orthostatic) hypotension. You don't get the spinning/losing balance/motion sickness sensation with this.

Similarly, fear of heights isn't vertigo (despite what Alfred Hitchcock would have you believe....... wink ).
Posted By: Jytte

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/28/15 04:17 PM

I'll just pop in there, that vomiting and debilitating dizziness can also be caused by food poisoning. Happened to me.
Posted By: Akino

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 07/22/15 11:41 PM

Hi,
I have to chime in. I had vertigo three times in my life and the feeling is so bad one would prefer to die. I always was driving.
What I know about vertigo is that a little crystal in you inner ear got loose and was 'swimming' around causing all the bad effects. It's possible it come from certain head movements, but definitely not from playing your piano. So, no worries there.

If it happens again, you can do certain movements with your head, if your condition allows it. I couldn't do it because it made it worse. The movements are very easy and it would be best to have a partner who can move your head as you have to lay down, what you've done anyway I gues.

You can also find good tutorial on youtube. It's called EPLEY maneuver.

It comes out of the blue and for me the only thing that helps is to lay down for hours and not move. Hope you'll never get it again.
Posted By: grace_note

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 07/23/15 12:06 AM

Originally Posted by Akino
Hi,
I have to chime in. I had vertigo three times in my life and the feeling is so bad one would prefer to die. I always was driving.
What I know about vertigo is that a little crystal in you inner ear got loose and was 'swimming' around causing all the bad effects. It's possible it come from certain head movements, but definitely not from playing your piano. So, no worries there.

If it happens again, you can do certain movements with your head, if your condition allows it. I couldn't do it because it made it worse. The movements are very easy and it would be best to have a partner who can move your head as you have to lay down, what you've done anyway I gues.

You can also find good tutorial on youtube. It's called EPLEY maneuver.

It comes out of the blue and for me the only thing that helps is to lay down for hours and not move. Hope you'll never get it again.


Yep. As weird as it sounds, I knew someone who had the messed up ear crystal, yes, the doctor moved his head around and fixed it.
Posted By: Isabelle1949

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 07/23/15 03:37 AM

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
I've never had vertigo issues before, but I had an attack while practicing piano Saturday night that was so bad I thought I was having a stroke. Went to local Emergency Room, they ran a full battery of tests: Not a stroke, not a heart attack -- but possibly an inner ear disorder likely to recur.

It did recur, late last evening -- again while I was practicing piano. Not quite as severe, but much longer. The world was spinning around me nearly uncontrollably for an hour, causing nausea and other bad stuff. Walking was impossible. Crawling was hard.

Today I've been trying without much luck to get in to see a specialist. I want to put a stake in this STAT.

Has anyone else here ever encountered vertigo issues while playing the piano? That both attacks hit me while practicing may be sheer coincidence. On the other hand, I've been trying to explain to my better half that the risk factors would be reduced if I got a larger, more substantial piano...


As an RN who used to work in home health, I have cared for a number of patients who had vertigo. Yours may be caused by simply moving your head up and down , reading the music and looking at the keyboard. Be careful, change your position slowly to prevent falling. You will most likely need to see a specialist who will move you and your head in a number of positions to help re-seat the crystals in your inner ear. I wish you the best.
Posted By: Cassiesmom

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 07/24/15 05:37 AM

Hi ClsscLib

You have my complete sympathy !!... It sounds like you are doing all the right things... Emergency room checkup and now following up with a specialist.. I'm sure there are a number of issues that can cause vertigo and it's important to get to the root cause..

I have experienced occasional episodes over the years. HORRIBLE stuff !... My diagnosis was fluid build up in the ear.. ( from bad allergy seasons).. The first episodes went on for months w/ dizziness and non-stop nausea.. Meds did nothing to help symptoms.. I now am careful to manage allergies w/ prescription(s) year round and only get the rare attack that passes briefly.. ( i do have some vision/depth perception issues that maybe makes me even more sensitive to vertigo .. who knows smile

BEST OF LUCK w/ your diagnosis.. You'll feel better once you know what's going on !!!...

cassiesmom
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 07/24/15 06:17 PM

I had that back in the '70's and '80's when shag carpet was in style. Very thankful for that -- I could lie on my back and hang on tight to the shag, which helped a bit with the fear of falling off the planet... ;-)

Mine was horrible, but it just went away.


Posted By: Ralphiano

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 07/24/15 06:39 PM

I have had two such episodes (the dizziness/spinning/loss of balance sypmtoms). After researching, I became convinced that I was experiencing benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), as you mentioned above.

Both times I attained complete relief by using the Epley maneuver, mentioned by Akino above. It is a very simple exercise, and in my case, was completely effective.

There are some very detailed descriptions and tutorials on the internet. I suggest it.
Posted By: FarmGirl

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 07/25/15 03:20 AM

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
I've never had vertigo issues before, but I had an attack while practicing piano Saturday night that was so bad I thought I was having a stroke. Went to local Emergency Room, they ran a full battery of tests: Not a stroke, not a heart attack -- but possibly an inner ear disorder likely to recur.

It did recur, late last evening -- again while I was practicing piano. Not quite as severe, but much longer. The world was spinning around me nearly uncontrollably for an hour, causing nausea and other bad stuff. Walking was impossible. Crawling was hard.

Today I've been trying without much luck to get in to see a specialist. I want to put a stake in this STAT.

Has anyone else here ever encountered vertigo issues while playing the piano? That both attacks hit me while practicing may be sheer coincidence. On the other hand, I've been trying to explain to my better half that the risk factors would be reduced if I got a larger, more substantial piano...


Don't have time to read everyone's response. Sorry if it's mentioned by someone before me but I did experience vertigo when I try to get up one morning. My doctor gave me a copy of exercise routine to prevent it. I could not find it but I found related sites. Good luck and take care.
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/script/main/mobileart-emh.asp?articlekey=129503
Posted By: Hotstrings

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/22/19 02:52 AM

Just had the exact same thing happen to me last month! 2nd time in a year.
It is likely BPPV. My first episode was cause I hit my head several times on a rental sonata and I have a Santa Fe.
This last time was a year later ( March 27) in a self imposed piano retreat in my sons condo in Destin Florida.
Practiced piano, Skyped w my teachers, 4-6 hours a day ALL w headphones. My wonderful Beyerdynamic closed — like in a tomb. Since I was in a condo I didn’t want to disturb anyone.
On the 10th day I was taking a brunch break , turned from the stove and the Gulf and condo just spun like a top. Fell, couldn’t get to phone or 911. 7th floor. Usually when not playing piano, I was out on balcony.
Violently sick for hours , scooted along, finally subsided enough to call for help,er, meds, but it’s an inner ear crystals get loose and they have to maneuver head, like those fluid games where you have to direct flow. Lasted 2 days, finally subsided on 3rd day.
I am set for ear specialist , tests and some place gonna show me the maneuvers. I already had double by pass surgery after a heart attack and that was pale next to intense BPPV.
There is no notice, no cure, no diet, no exercise, no anything I have researched that really prevents it.
When I use my headphones, I keep them much lower and wear half as much.
Well documented connection about headphones closed inner ear pressure and vertigo.
This disorder I believe is mostly seen by people in 60s and 70s.
Posted By: PianogrlNW

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/22/19 04:32 AM

Have you tried taking an OTC decongestant? It is possible that could clear up an inner ear problem. I had a dizzy issue many years ago but not related to playing the piano that was resolved by a decongestant. I do not believe it is anxiety.
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/22/19 11:30 AM

My father occasionally suffered from vertigo. He also had inner ear issues - he could never balance a bicycle.

I have inherited some of my father's issues, and they seem to be getting worse with age. I rode a bicycle all through college, but I can't balance one anymore. I always fall. I have seen a doctor, and it's nothing to worry about unless the symptoms start getting worse.

I've never had the symptoms that ClsscLib mentions while playing piano, but I do occasionally get a little dizzy while practicing four-octave scales and arpeggios. All that leaning back and forth... This is on a rather substantial piano, a concert grand with a Jansen bench. Funny enough, I have never gotten dizzy practicing the scales and arpeggios on my digital.
Posted By: TomInCinci

Re: Vertigo on the Piano Bench? - 04/22/19 11:31 AM

If it is BPV, here's something that worked for me. Of course, you'll still want advice from someone WAY more qualified than I am!

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