How long will you need to stay on these medications?

In December I graduated from college and moved back home. Things with my boyfriend at the time were rough, and I was often stressed. At the end of January, I went to the hospital for a racing heart beat. My pulse had gone up to 160bpms and wouldn’t come back down without medication.(this continued to happen at least 4 more times until the end of April, although we think its un-related). Then, in the middle of February I came down with dizziness, feeling off-balance, drunk all the time, things pulsating/vibrating in my vision field, foggy brained where I can’t remember easily what day it is or what I did, extreme light sensitivity. It would come for a week at a time, then let up a little. At the end of March, I spent an entire week in bed, with throbbing throughout my body, and overall dizziness, walking felt like walking on marshmallows or being on a roller coaster. We went to the neurologist and the GP and they both determined it wasn’t vertigo because I wasn’t technically “spinning.” Meclazine didn’t help either and the only thing that seemed to help whatsoever- mostly just to knock me out, was half of a .25 mg of Xanax. At this point, I had an MRI done and it was normal. I also went to see a neuro-opthamologist because I have such strong visual symptoms, and she found nothing as well. I also saw a allergist to make sure it wasn’t anything in my house (although we do have mold), and I saw a cardiologist and a electro-physiologist to rule-out that the dizziness was coming from my heart.

I decided to push it further, reading up on my symptoms online and decided to go to an ENT. The ENT performed a VNG test and found that I had left inner ear weakness. This made so much sense because I often felt I was being pulled to the left-hand side. FINALLY, a diagnosis. I got an appointment with one of the top VRT physical therapists in the area and she determined I was really off-balance and she would be able to help. Unfortunately, once I started therapy I was worse than ever. I spent an entire weekend sleeping due to extreme dizziness - worse than EVER, nausea, couldn’t walk, body aches, you name it. The physical therapist thought that there could be a migraine related component because I responded so poorly to the therapy, and I have a history of migraines with aura. At this point, I also had an MRI done of my neck to rule out that - it was normal as well. I then went to a Neurotologist and he determined with testing: the rotational chair test and a hearing test, that it was not my inner ear at all. He said that my test may have had a false positive because of my small ear canals.

Back to square one. It is now the middle of June and I have been sick since the middle of February. I no longer suffer from the heart-racing problems, but I am still very dizzy and feel like I live in a fun-house with a foggy memory and some days a ton of pain in my limbs. Most days I am able to drive and go to work because I have an easy receptionist position. However, some days I need a ride and I can’t participate in activities. Often, doing anything physical like riding a bike or working out makes me incredibly sick - or just simply taking a shower ruins my day. I can’t touch chocolate or coffee or tea, and I changed my diet in the past year and a half so that I don’t eat gluten and I’m a vegetarian.

So right now, I have a prescription for Verapamil (from the cardiologist), Topamax (from the neurologist), and Lexapro. About 9 days ago, I started the Lexapro at 5mg. It really helped the dizziness a decent amount, but I’ve become agitated, unhappy and not feeling sexual at all. I’ve been on Lexapro in the past (for Anxiety and depression - which totally went away when I stopped eating Gluten), but I’ve never felt this way. I can’t decide if the side effects outweigh the benefits. And I’m just wondering, how long do you think you need to stay on these medications? Is it possible to only be on them for a few months and it will knock the MAV out?? Or is this long-term? I’ve had a history of migraines with aura since I was 15 but I used to only get them about 4 times a year. I often got dizzy but never to this extent or for this long. The symptoms are constant - and like most of you, they only ever go away when I sleep (if I’m lucky). I’m going to another neurologist - hopefully a much better one - in 3 weeks, but I just wanted your opinion! Thanks! D

So sorry you’re going through this. It sounds like you tolerated Lexapro before but not now - and that you didn’t try the other 2 meds because you expected this one to work out like it did before. Did I get that right?

Some side effects go away - it might be good to check with the doctor who prescribed it to see if any of the side effects you’re getting might be expected to fade. If not, you may need to give up on it.

Some docs try to get people stabilized for about a year, then if the patient wants to try to wean off the meds, they can. By doing the migraine diet (see the MAV Survival Guide, above) and other lifestyle modifications, some people may be able to go without medication. Others may find that when they try to go off medication, the problems come back.

But it’s way too soon to tell in your case. Got to get your symptoms under control first, which I hope will happen soon, and without unpleasant side effects. Take care, and good luck!