Posted by: seattledizzygroup | February 28, 2019

Ideas for When You Are Housebound with Chronic Illness

Housebound edit

Things To Do When You Are Stuck At Home With Chronic Illness

Sometimes it is impossible to get out of the house when living with chronic illness.

These articles offer ideas for the chronically ill who are housebound:

Things to Do When You’re Mostly Housebound

When Your Chronic Illness Leaves You Housebound

Activities for Housebound People

28 Fun Things to Do When You’re Bored and Sick at Home

39 Things to Do Instead of Watching TV When You Have a Chronic Illness

Why You Should Get Your Daily Nature Fix (Even When You’re Housebound)

Enjoying Nature When You’re Housebound with Chronic Illness

What Exercise Can I Do While Stuck in Bed?

12 Ways to Help a Homebound Senior Stay Involved in Life

10 Ways to Make Money From Home with a Chronic Illness

Coping with the Isolation and Loneliness of Chronic Illness

Getting Through Difficult Days with Chronic Illness


© Copyright 2019, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | January 31, 2019

Together We Can Do So Much In 2019

Together We Can Do So Much in 2019!

Seattle Dizzy Group is a respected leader in the vestibular and balance disorders patient support community with increasing national and global reach. (Read about our 2018 Highlights below). We hope you will join us in 2019 and help us continue to grow, provide community, and offer support to people living with chronic dizziness and imbalance–in Seattle and beyond.  With your help, we can continue to expand community outreach and involvement (including hosting professional speakers on various vestibular/balance topics and connecting with local health providers/resources) and also increase our advocacy efforts to raise awareness about vestibular and balance disorders (including participating in Balance Awareness Week with our annual Walk for Balance Event, see Making a Difference for Balance Awareness).

Get Involved!

Seattle Dizzy Group is organized entirely by volunteers (the majority who are personally impacted by chronic dizziness and imbalance). Together we can do so much in 2019! We invite you to contribute to our group however you are able. Spread the word about Seattle Dizzy Group and invite others to join us. Share Seattle Dizzy Group information and resources with others. Participate in online discussions. Help with hosting in-person meetings and activities (be a greeter, assist with room set-up and take-down, bring snacks, provide transportation, etc.). For more info, email:

We are an independent, self-supporting not-for-profit group funded solely through donations. As we continue to grow and expand our outreach efforts, we are naturally incurring more expenses. Our goal is to continue to offer at no charge support and resources to those in need in the vestibular community–in Seattle and beyond. Please consider supporting Seattle Dizzy Group with a financial gift to help us keep growing and thriving in 2019!  (Any donation amount is greatly appreciated!).

Ways your financial gift helps Seattle Dizzy Group:

  • Provides materials, supplies, and hosting for monthly support group meetings.  (Each meeting costs about $25, or about $300 annually).
  • Provides thank you gifts for guest speakers. (As funds allow, we strive to honor speakers with about $25 value gift, or about $100 annually).
  • Provides administrative support, online services/resources, and website hosting, etc.  (Administrative costs are about $500 annually).
  • Provides funding for Balance Awareness Week event(s) and other group activities.  (Costs may be about $50-$100 or more per activity).
To give Seattle Dizzy Group a donation of any amount by credit card or PayPal, click the “Donate” button below.

PayPal Donate

(Gifts to Seattle Dizzy Group are not tax deductible at this time)

THANK YOU for your support!

2018 Highlights

  • In September, we hosted our Eighth Annual Walk for Balance Event in celebration of Balance Awareness Week and Falls Prevention Awareness Day/Week with a goal of raising awareness for vestibular and balance disorders and showing our support for people living with chronic dizziness and imbalance. We started the event with a yoga warm-up activity and then invited others to “Walk a Mile in Dizzy Shoes” with us at Green Lake.  We increased our impact during our walk by wearing blue, Seattle Dizzy Group gear, balance awareness t-shirts, and Walk for Balance badge stickers as well as carrying balloons, flamingos (balance “mascots”) and balance awareness signs. After walking together, we honored event participants with our fourth annual Dizzy Spirit Awards. As a part of the celebration, we enjoyed food and giveaways. We also had a balance awareness Information Fair throughout the event. It was a fun day that hopefully helped lift spirits and build momentum for the cause. We received wonderfully positive feedback from participants, and we are excited to continue to grow the event in 2019!
  • In October, we celebrated 12 years together as a support group!

  • In 2018, we continued to expand the Seattle Dizzy Group website/blog and online services/resources and reached thousands of people around the globe. (For example, our website/blog was viewed over 10,000 times in 2018 by visitors from over 100 different countries worldwide!). Additionally, we gained followers on Facebook and  Twitter, and increased membership of our MeetUp Group.  We appreciate everyone who connected online with Seattle Dizzy Group in 2018 and are especially grateful for all those who helped get the word out about our group and shared our posts/resources with others.

See also: Past Annual Highlights

© Copyright 2019, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | December 31, 2018

Choosing Positivity Despite Chronic Illness

Something Good in Every Day quote

Strategies for Having a Positive Outlook While Chronically Ill

Living with chronic illness is a struggle, but focusing on the positive can help lower stress, increase ability to cope with symptoms, and improve overall quality of life.

Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day! Practice looking for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.

These articles discuss the benefits of choosing positivity and offer strategies for having a positive outlook despite chronic illness:

The Power of Positivity: How to Maintain a Positive Attitude While Dealing with a Chronic Illness

5 Steps to Find the Bright Side When Coping with Illness

Keeping a Positive Outlook When Dealing with Chronic Illness

5 Tips for Staying Positive Despite Chronic Illness

10 Ways to Be Happier Despite Chronic Illness

The Brighter Side of Living with Chronic Illness: 6 Amazing Things You Know Better Than Most

Turning Negatives into Positives When You’re Chronically Ill

Mental Contrasting: A Smart Alternative to Positive Thinking

Seeing with New Eyes: How to Find the Good in Every Day


Post Updated January 2019.

© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | November 30, 2018

Advancements in Restoring Balance & Hearing with Prostheses

Cochlear implant

Treating Chronic Vestibular & Hearing Loss with Cutting Edge Implanted Devices

by James Phillips, PhD

Director of the Dizziness & Balance Center at University of Washington Medical Center 

 (Presented to Seattle Dizzy Group on 11/10/18)

This presentation gives an overview of vestibular and auditory prostheses including how the University of Washington Medical Center is currently evaluating these cutting edge implanted devices which will hopefully help to improve the quality of life for many with chronic vestibular and hearing loss.

What is the Vestibular System?

  • The vestibular system includes the structures in the inner ear that contribute to balance and orientation.
  • It includes the nerves that relay balance and orientation information from the inner ear to the brain.
  • It includes the neurons in the brain that make sense of that information, by combining information from a variety of sources:
    • different parts of each inner ear
    • from both ears
    • from the visual system
    • from the muscles and joints

Balance System

What Parts of the Inner Ear are Parts of the Vestibular System?

  • Semicircular canals
    • Posterior canal
    • Lateral canal
    • Anterior canal
      • Detect turning
  • Otolith organs
    • Utricle
    • Saccule
      • Detect front-back, right-left, up-down
      • Detect tilt
  • Vestibular Ganglia

The Internal Ear

What are the Semicircular Canals?

  • 3 canals (posterior, lateral, anterior)
  • Orthogonal
    • Fluid filled
  • Ampula
    • Location of hair cells.  (Our sense of balance starts with hair cells!).
      • Like the hair cells in the cochlea for hearing
    • Neural transduction
      • Convert movement into neural signals

How Do the Semicircular Canals Work?

  • When you turn your head fluid moves in the semicircular canals.
  • Each ampula contains a cupula, which billows when the fluid moves, which in turn bends the hairs of the hair cells.
    • Gelatinous tongue
    • Embedded hair cells
    • Sense rotational acceleration

How Do the Otolith Organs Work?

  • The otolith organs contain a gelatinous cap (otolithic membrane) and otoliths (otoconia, calcium carbonate crystals).  They also contain hair cells.
  • When we slide or tilt, the gelatinous cap deforms, and the hairs of the hair cells bend.
    • Shear
    • Sense of tilt and linear acceleration

Otolith Organs

What Happens When the Inner Ear Vestibular System Fails Bilaterally?

Both ears fail to work:

  • No whirling vertigo
  • Significant Disorientation
    • Swimmy headed feeling
  • Nausea and fatigue
    • Conflicting sensory input
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Oscillopsia
    • Failure to stabilize your eyes when you turn your head
    • The visual world moves when you move
    • Reduces your vision
  • Postural and Gait Instability

Is There Compensation for Inner Ear Vestibular Loss?

  • YES
  • Over time we can compensate well for vestibular loss
    • Especially true of children
    • Our brains are designed to adjust for loss of input
  • Compensation is dependent on learning:
    • not to misinterpret sensory cues from a non-working vestibular system
    • to use contextually appropriate cues
    • to develop a general strategy that is adaptive over a range of situations
    • to substitute useful information from other sensory systems:
      • Somatosensory System
      • Visual System
  • Compensation requires sensory stability
    • Defeated by change of fluctuation

Can We Replace the Inner Ear Vestibular System?

Yes, with a vestibular prosthesis!

Vestibular Prosthesis

Who Could Be Treated with a Vestibular Prosthesis?

  • Not patients with a single acute transient loss of function.
  • Patients with bilateral loss of balance function.
    • Often iatrogenic
      • Exposure to ototoxic drugs
  • Patients with uncompensated unilateral loss of balance function.
    • Large numbers of patients do not adapt to a loss from one ear
  • Patients with fluctuating balance function.
    • Meniere’s Disease
      • Extreme intermittent vertigo
        • Destructive therapy
          • Injected ototoxin, surgical ablation, nerve section
          • These devices would take the place of a labyrinthectomy
  • Usher Syndrome patients:
    • Bilateral loss of balance dysfunction
    • Combined with hearing loss
      • Usher Syndrome patients may already have inner ear implants (cochlear implants for hearing loss).
    • To effectively treat Usher Syndrome vestibular loss requires a combined vestibular and auditory implant.

UWMC Road to Human Trials

  1. Design a device to stimulate vestibular afferent fibers.
    • Leverage a highly developed existing technology
      • Cochlear implant
    • Modify the software and hardware
      • Create a minimally invasive electrode technology
      • Create appropriate stimulation strategies
        • FM not AM
    • Partner with an existing Cochlear Implant manufacturer
  2. Develop a simple surgical approach with the right target.
    • Three semicircular canals
      • Coherent rotational information
  3. Construct prototype devices.
    • Identical to the final production device

UWMC Road to Clinical Trials

  1.   Evaluate the device in animal model.
    • Implanted devices in 14 rhesus monkeys
      • Similar inner ear anatomy to humans
      • Test in intact and lesioned animals
        • Ideal model for unilateral and bilateral loss
      • Evaluate risk
        • Longitudinally evaluate inner ear function
          • Using identical clinical tests to those that are used diagnostically in humans
      • Evaluate efficacy
        • Longitudinally evaluate prosthetically elicited function
          • Using clinically relevant behavioral and physiological measures
  2. Test the device in human patients with vestibular loss.
    • In 4 Meniere’s Disease patients
      • Can the device restore vestibular function lost from the destructive treatment?
  3. Modify our devices to create a combined cochlear and vestibular prosthesis.
  4. Test the new device in rhesus monkeys.
  5. Modify our existing FDA IDE to test patients with hearing and vestibular loss with the new combined implant.
  6. Test the new device in human patients with combined hearing and vestibular loss (2 additional patients, 6 total).

Turning the Implanted Device On

  • Electrical stimulation with biphasic pulse trains
  • Produces:
    • Eye movements – eVOR (Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex)
    • Body sway
    • Sensation of motion
  • Effective vestibular stimulation does not produce:
    • Nausea
    • Pain
    • Sound sensation
    • Facial nerve activation

UWMC Research Team Conclusions

  • We know that a vestibular implant works!
  • We have tested such a device in animals and humans.
  • We have an existing approval to test these devices in patients.
  • We have built a combined vestibular and cochlear implant.
  • We are currently testing it in monkeys.
  • We are working with the FDA to modify our existing human trial to test this new device.
  • We are not the only ones doing this!  (John Hopkins is researching similar implanted devices).

*This material regarding vestibular and auditory prosthetic technology is the intellectual property of the members of the device research team, the University of Washington, and Cochlear Ltd.*

More Information:

Conquering Vertigo article by James Phillips, PhD


James Phillips PhD UWMC

James Phillips, PhD

Director of the Dizziness & Balance Center

University of Washington Medical Center

James Phillips, PhD, joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 1998 and is currently a research associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He is also the director of the Dizziness and Balance Center at the UW Medical Center, the Vestibular Diagnostic Laboratory at UWMC, and the Roger Johnson Clinical Oculomotor Laboratory in the Division of Ophthalmology at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Prior to joining UW, he earned a PhD in psychology and in physiology from the University of Washington. Dr. Phillips teaches in the Departments of Otolaryngology-HNS, Ophthalmology, and Speech and Hearing Sciences. He is a faculty research affiliate of the National Primate Research Center, the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center, the Center on Human Development and Disability, and the Autism Center at the University of Washington. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Center for Navigation and Communication Sciences at the University of Rochester and the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. He is on the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of the Vestibular Disorders Association.

More information:


Presentation information is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

Presentations posted online may include discussion notes, links, images, and other information added by Seattle Dizzy Group.


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


Posted by: seattledizzygroup | October 31, 2018

Chronic Illness Dilemmas

Dilemma Question 3.png

Strategies for Making Decisions with Unpredictable Health

It can be challenging to make decisions with unpredictable health.  The uncertainty of fluctuating symptoms and fatigue makes it difficult to plan ahead and keep commitments.  A common dilemma for the chronically ill is when to say “yes” to making plans and when to say “no” to invitations.  It is important to practice self care and pacing, consider the opportunity costs and possible health impact of activities, and try to find a good balance between pushing yourself sometimes and also knowing your limits.

These articles offer suggestions for common chronic illness dilemmas:

“Should I or Shouldn’t I?” The Dilemmas of Chronic Illness

6 Things to Do Before You Say “Yes”

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Say “Yes”

Sometimes Saying “No” Isn’t An Option

How Chronic Illness Fans the Flames of Uncertainty


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.
Posted by: seattledizzygroup | September 30, 2018

Take Steps to Prevent Falls


Falls are Preventable!

The vestibular system deteriorates as we age, and as a result many older people begin to feel unsteady.  Dizziness is a common symptom affecting about 30% of adults over the age of 65 and 1/3 of adults over age 65 fall each year.  Falls can take a serious toll on seniors health, quality of life and independence.  However, falls are NOT a normal part of aging and are preventable!

More information:

The first week of Fall each year is Falls Prevention Awareness Week with the goal of raising awareness about how to prevent falls among older adults.

Falls Prevention Steady as You Go VeDA infographic 2018

Falls Prevention Resources:

Balance and Aging VeDA Article

Balance and Falls in the Older Adult VeDA Article

Falls Prevention Fact Sheet

NCOA List of Falls Prevention Articles


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


Posted by: seattledizzygroup | September 25, 2018

Balance Awareness Week Did You Know Facts About Vestibular Disorders

Help Raise Awareness For Vestibular/Balance Disorders Beyond Balance Awareness Week!

Every September, the Vestibular Disorders Association celebrates Balance Awareness Week to raise awareness and increase understanding of vestibular/balance disorders which are debilitating yet may seem “invisible” to others, and help improve the quality of life of millions of people world-wide who are living with chronic dizziness and imbalance.  Find out how you can get involved and help “Defeat Dizziness” at

As a part of Balance Awareness Week 2018, the Vestibular Disorders Association launched a “Did You Know” online campaign with facts about vestibular/balance disorders.  Share this information to help raise awareness beyond Balance Awareness Week!

Did You Know?

  • 35% of adults aged 40 years or older have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction.
  • Vertigo from a vestibular problem accounts for 1/3 of all dizziness and vertigo symptoms reported to healthcare professionals.
  • 80% of people with vertigo have an inner ear disorder.
  • Vestibular disorders affect more Americans than type II diabetes, asthma, fibromyalgia and celiac disease combined.
  • Dizziness is a common symptoms affecting about 30% of people over the age of 65.
  • On average, a vestibular patient sees 5-7 doctors before being diagnosed.
  • Your body uses your vision, sense of touch and inner ear to help you maintain balance.
  • Just getting out of bed can be difficult when you have an inner ear disorder.
  • Inner ear disorders overload your brain, making it hard to think, speak, or read.
  • Some people with inner ear disorders appear drunk when they walk and slur their speech.
  • Lying back, such as at the dentist or hairdresser, can cause the crystals in your inner ear to fall out of place, causing spinning vertigo.
  • Grocery stores, restaurants, move theaters and large crowds can be difficult environments for someone with a vestibular disorder.
  • Social events can be too loud and busy for vestibular patients.
  • Inner ear problems can lead to social isolation, anxiety and depression.
  • Vestibular disorders can cause or worsen anxiety, depression, migraines and pain.
  • Inner ear problems can trigger the “fight or flight” response, causing a heightened state of anxiety.
  • “But you look fine!” doesn’t mean you are fine.
  • Your pet can have inner ear problems, too.


Click to download PDF: Vestibular Disorders An Overview VeDA Infographic


Click to download PDF: Causes of Dizziness and Vertigo VeDA Infographic

See also:  Vestibular Disorders An Overview Article

To learn more about vestibular and balance disorders, visit:


Balance Awareness Blog Posts:

Raise Balance Awareness

Balance Awareness Facts, Figures & Trivia

Balance and Falls Prevention Awareness

A Balancing Act: Improving Balance and Preventing Falls

Exercise & Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance

*How Seattle Dizzy Group is Making a Difference for Balance Awareness*


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


Posted by: seattledizzygroup | August 31, 2018

How to Respond to Comments about Chronic Illness


Ways to Handle Remarks about Being Chronically Ill

It can be challenging to know how to deal with comments about chronic illness.  Likewise, it can be difficult for friends and family to know what to say and what not to say to a loved one who is chronically ill.

These articles offer suggestions for those living with chronic illness as well as helpful tips for friends and family:

How to Respond to Unkind Remarks When You’re Chronically Ill

4 Tips for Dealing with Unsolicited Health Advice

When Your Friend is Ill The Right Words are a Blessing

12 Comments that Would be Welcomed by the Chronically Ill

What Those with Chronic Illness DO Want to Hear

  10 Things You Should Say to Someone with a Chronic Illness

15 Things Not to Say to Someone with a Chronic Illness

What Those with Chronic Illness DON’T Want to Hear

What the Chronically Ill DON’T Want to Hear (Part 2)


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Post updated September 2018.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | July 31, 2018

Strategies to Combat Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness Road

Ways to Prevent & Treat Motion Sickness

Traveling can be a fun adventure, but may unfortunately bring on motion sickness—especially for those living with a chronic vestibular disorder.

Motion sickness occurs when the body systems that make up the vestibular (balance) system, the inner ear, eyes and receptors located throughout the body that can sense movement (proprioception), lose sync with one another. This “sensory mismatch” is often caused by riding in a car, boat, airplane, or riding a novelty ride at the carnival. It can however be caused during any other activity that involves motion.

Dizziness is the main symptom associated with motion sickness and may be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms including  nausea, vomiting, fatigue, cold sweats, headache, etc.

A sensory mismatch also occurs in certain inner ear disorders, producing the same symptoms. For example, in Meniere’s Disease, fluid pressure in the inner ear can give a false cue to the brain that the body (or the room) is spinning, but vision and the pressure on the feet indicate otherwise. The resulting nausea is similar to being sea-sick.  In Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), abnormal particles in a semicircular canal cause currents when the head is tilted, creating a false cue of spinning.  This can result in a loss of balance because of disorientation, and nausea because of the sensory mismatch.

(Sensory Mismatch information from vestibular expert Dr. John Epley’s

Luckily, motion sickness from travel adventures is usually temporary.  However, in rare cases motion sickness may persist long after travels.  Mal de Débarquement Syndrome (MdDs) or Disembark­ment Sickness is a rare neurological disorder (also considered a balance disorder though not resulting from an inner ear disorder) that most often develops following an ocean cruise but may occur after any type of travel or even spontaneously.  The characteristic symptom of MdDs is a persistent sensation of motion (such as rocking, swaying, bobbing, etc.).  MdDs is a life-altering condition which may be quite disabling and may persist for years.

(MdDs information from

Helpful Articles:

Dizziness & Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments (Vision Therapy)

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Motion Sickness

Why You Get Car Sick: Your Brain Thinks It’s Being Poisoned

How to Prevent Motion Sickness + Natural Treatments

Preventing and Treating Motion Sickness

10 Tips to Prevent Motion Sickness

10 Ways to Combat Motion Sickness (from a Life-Long Sufferer)

Natural Remedies for Motion Sickness

Vertigo, Dizziness, Disequilibrium: Battling Chronic Nausea

Mal de Débarquement Syndrome

Summer Survival Strategies

Traveling with Dizziness (Adventures in “Dizzyland”)


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


Posted by: seattledizzygroup | June 30, 2018

Soak Up the Sun for Vitamin D

soak up sun 4

Enjoy the Summer Sunshine for Better Health

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient which we get from food as well as from sun exposure (which is why it is often called the “sunshine vitamin”).

There are many health benefits of Vitamin D and it plays an important role in vestibular disorders and other chronic illnesses.  For example, recent studies have suggested higher Vitamin D levels may decrease the frequency and severity of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo and migraines.  Vitamin D may also help with reducing chronic fatigue and inflammation as well as managing autoimmune disease.

Just 15 minutes of noontime summer sun exposure on the hands, arms, and face will provide a person the equivalent of 1,000 IU of Vitamin D.  (Skin should turn the lightest shade of pink, but be careful not to get sunburned).  If we soak up enough sunshine in the summertime, the excess Vitamin D is stored and can be used during the gray winter months.  So, get outside and enjoy sunny summer days for better health all year!

Most people have low or less than optimal Vitamin D levels.  Those who are at higher risk of deficiency or insufficiency, including the elderly and those with chronic illness, should have their Vitamin D levels routinely checked and supplement if necessary.

More Information About Vitamin D:

Let There Be Light: The Importance of Sunshine

7 Signs You May Have a Vitamin D Deficiency

How Much Vitamin D  to Take for Optimal Health?

The Relationship Between Vitamin D and Vertigo

Decreased Serum Vitamin D in Idiopathic Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

New Study Finds Low Vitamin D Levels May Be Related To Migraines

Vitamin D and Autoimmune Disease

See Also:

Summer Survival Strategies


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

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