Vertigo -Hollywood Edition

A few years ago, we took a family trip to New York City for Christmas. Part of that weekend included taking in the Broadway production of Wicked. We missed seeing Kristin Chenoweth in her starring role, but we went out and bought the soundtrack as soon as we got home. For the next two years, my girls ran around the house singing Ms. Chenoweth’s version of “Popular” at the top of their lungs.

Not long after that, we heard that Ms. Chenoweth had been injured in a freak accident. It wasn’t until last month when a headline showed up on an internet newsfeed that I heard anything about a possible vestibular component,

“Kristin Chenoweth suffering from Meniere’s diseas”

April 18, 2013, 3:13 PM EST

“Actress/singer Kristin Chenoweth has been struck down with a hearing and balance disorder. The Glee star reveals she’s suffering from an inner ear condition, Meniere’s disease, which can cause episodes of vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss, and she’s struggling to deal with the condition. Taking to Twitter.com, she writes, ‘Oh menieres (sic) disease. Id (sic) like to eliminate you.’ Chenoweth has yet to share any further details about her illness, and it is not clear whether her current condition is related to the accident she suffered on the set of TV legal drama The Good Wife last July (12), when a lighting rig fell and hit her on the head. The incident left her with a fractured skull, concussion, three cracked teeth, and neck, rib and hip injuries.”

After a few minutes of internet sleuthing, I ran across this explanation from Ms. Chenoweth:

“It’s a disorder that causes extra liquid or congestion that gravitates to the inner ear, and you wake up with vertigo. Anybody who has it knows that it’s life altering. [points to a sign] The H&M on that building over there will move around, and I could just fall over.

“Salt is a big trigger—I have to follow a low-sodium diet big-time. I also avoid caffeine, chocolate, alcohol. The hardest thing is sleeping on an incline. I can’t sleep flat, because the head position affects the inner ear. That’s been a bummer, because I had two slipped disks in my neck, and for that I need to sleep flat. So I’m battling two different things.”

I am a little confused regarding the comment of having to sleep on an incline. Could she possibly have trauma-induced BPPV as well as, or instead of, Meniere’s disease?   Of course, my insight into this situation is limited to Hollywood tabloids, so I need to be suppress my diagnostic curiosity.

 

About Alan Desmond

Dr. Alan Desmond is the director of the Balance Disorders Program at Wake Forest Baptist Health Center, and holds an adjunct assistant professor faculty position at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. In 2015, he received the Presidents Award from the American Academy of Audiology.