Archive for May 6th, 2009

For the Non-Dizzy Supporter

Dizzy patients often feel isolated because vestibular disorders are “invisible”, that is, you can’t see what is making them suffer. Patients in our clinic often describe situations where they are explaining their vestibular symptoms to a family or friend, and they’ll get the response “well, you don’t LOOK sick”.

As supporters of our dizzy friends, family members, and colleagues, we must remember that not every disorder can be seen. Imagine someone coming to us to talk about a medical issue such as cancer, MS, or arthritis. In these situations, because we know how serious they can be, we would never say “well, you don’t LOOK sick”. The same should be said for dizziness and balance disorders.

This reminds me of a Jury Duty case my mother was on a number of years ago. A gentleman was sueing a hotel chain for payment of his medical bills and therapy to relieve his tinnitus and dizziness brought on by a faulty fire alarm in the hotel bathroom going off while he was showering. He was in chronic pain and my mother told me that he spent most of the week long court case with his head in his hands, in severe pain. The prosecutor kept insinuating that this gentleman was lying about the pain he was in – because no one else could see this “invisible” problem.

There are a number of things that non-dizzy individuals can do to support and understand dizzy patients.


  • Talk to individuals with dizziness and balance disorders and ask how they feel, what it is like, their challenges. You can learn a lot just by asking!
  • Don’t say “you don’t LOOK sick”. They are. End of story.
  • Don’t say you know how they feel if you have never had a dizziness/balance disorder.
  • Join them for a vestibular support group – you’ll learn a lot just by listening.

Read About Vestibular Disorders:

  • “Invisible Illnesses and Disabilities”, by Sharon Smith-Merritt, is a personal account of a dizzy patient.
  • “Feeling Dizzy: Understanding and Treating Vertigo, Dizziness, and Other Balance Disorders,” by Brian Blakley and Marc Siegel, gives a basic overview of balance disorders.

Join a Support Group: