February 19, 2011

How is Love Like Dizziness? Medically Speaking...

I watched this touching video of what it is like to fall in love... that very moment when you see the love of your life for the first time... and the world falls away. Time slows down. That feeling of elation, passion, love overwhelms. Time stands still. Everything else blurs out except for him/her...

Now from a medical perspective, how can we test this? If "love" is considered a disease, how can we positively "diagnose" this? How can a doctor touch, see, feel, measure "love" and the severity of this affliction when all the symptoms are felt on the inside?

The simple answer is you can't. Similarly, dizziness is a problem that like love, can't be seen, touched, measured by the doctor very easily. Unlike tonsillitis where all a doctor has to do is look in the mouth and "see" the infection, we can't do the same for dizziness.

The way a physician approaches a sensation that is only felt by the patient, but no other is via several steps.

A good history. That's why when a patient with dizziness comes to a doctor's office, we ask a lot of really picky questions as it helps narrow down the possibilities. This step is just like when a friend asks exactly what you felt when you first saw the love of your life.

- What does the dizziness exactly feel like? Spinning, fainting, rocking, drunk, etc???
- Exactly how long does an episode last for? Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months???
- Can it be triggered? Turning, bending, walking, etc???

Click here for a dizziness flowchart based on answers to these and other similar questions.

Based on the history, additional testing may or may not be required. If a doctor was trying to decide if a patient was afflicted with "love", a good history may be all that is required. However, if the doctor is not quite sure, he/she may want to get an EKG to measure the pulse to ensure no supraventricular tachycardia arrhythmia ("When I see John, my heart races"), MRI scan to ensure no brain tumor (causing symptom of time standing still), ophthalmology exam ("Everything else seems to blur out except for John"), etc.

Just like for "love", a similar type workup needs to be pursued for dizziness depending on how the dizziness exactly felt like and may include audiogram, EKG, bloodwork, ENG, cardiac ECHO, 24 hour holter, 30 day cardiac event monitoring, pulmonary function tests, carotid ultrasounds, MRI/CT scans, EEG, chest-x-rays, allergy testing, tilt-table test, etc. As such, one may need to have an evaluation by a neurologist, cardiologist, ENT, pulmonologist, endocrinologist, etc to uncover the cause of your specific dizziness.

Once the cause is determined, treatment is based on addressing that specific diagnosis. As one can see, the human body's sense of balance is actually extremely complex making dizziness one of the most difficult symptom to diagnose and treat.

"Love" would be similarly difficult to diagnose with absolutely certainty if it was considered a disease as well. Based on symptoms alone (without history), love could potentially be confused with fear, anger, hate, etc.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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