BODY SIGNAL ALERT/DIZZINESS WITH VOMITING, HEADACHE, NUMBNESS AROUND THE MOUTH

Description and Possible Medical Problems

If you feel dizzy no matter if you’re moving around or sitting still and the dizziness is accompanied by vomiting, headache, loss of speech, numbness around the mouth, and/or loss of the use of one of your limbs, you should see your doctor immediately. Your dizziness may be caused by a problem in the brain, not your inner ear. In addition to the dizziness and other symptoms, you may have trouble walking.

These are all signs of a small stroke or a tumor. Arteriosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, often reduces the amount of blood that reaches the brain, which can cause these symptoms. A tumor can grow to the point where it begins to press on an artery, which cuts off the blood going to the brain.

Treatment

Your doctor will take your complete health history and do a complete physical, which will include an evaluation of your neurological system with a CAT scan or MRI scan to check for a possible old or new stroke, an echocardiogram to check for any heart irregularities or clots, or a carotid Doppler test, which measures the flow of blood from the neck to the brain.

If your doctor thinks you’ve had a stroke, he will prescribe treatment that includes a low-fat diet that is also low in sodium if your blood pressure is elevated, and one baby aspirin taken daily, which seems to inhibit the blood’s ability to clot, meaning that no obstructions to the flow of blood to the brain will develop. If your doctor believes you’ve had a series of persistent small strokes as shown by an MRI but that you may have not noticed, he may prescribe a medication called Ticlid, taken three times a day, which also helps keep the blood from clotting but is stronger than baby aspirin. If you are taking Ticlid, your doctor will want to monitor you with periodic blood tests, since the medication can sometimes cause your white blood cell count to decrease.

Another medication is Coumadin, which actually thins the blood and is only used in severe cases when aspirin and Ticlid are not strong enough to prevent the blood from clotting. If you are taking Coumadin and you also have an ulcer, you may need to take an antiulcer medication such as Carafate or Zantac to coat your stomach in order to protect it from the Coumadin. Also, you need to make sure your doctor monitors your health closely when you are taking Coumadin and call your doctor immediately if you notice that you are bleeding excessively from a small cut or notice blood in your stool or urine. All of these symptoms can be a sign of internal bleeding, which can be caused by the Coumadin.

If your doctor thinks you may have a brain tumor, see “Headache in the Morning, Made Worse by Sneezing, Coughing,” below, for a description of the condition and your treatment options.

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