Ann Widdecombe health: Politician reveals what caused her to lose ‘all sense of balance’
Ann Widdecombe, 72, has long been a force to be reckoned with in politics, most recently evidenced by her willingness to spar with her political opponents as an MEP for the Brexit Party.
Despite Anne’s battle-hardened exterior, a health issue a couple of years back had her fearing the worst.
In her Daily Express column she wrote: “I sat up and thought it would stop but it didn’t. Then I tried to get out of bed and fell over. I simply couldn’t stand and had completely lost all sense of balance.
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“I assumed I was having a stroke and it was the only time I’ve ever called the doctor out in the middle of the night.”
Ann continued: “I assumed I was having a stroke and it was the only time I’ve ever called the doctor out in the middle of the night.”
What was it?
Thankfully, after visiting her GP, it was revealed that the cause of Ann’s imbalance was viral labyrinthitis.
According to the NHS, labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection that causes a delicate structure deep inside your ear called the labyrinth to become inflamed, which affects your hearing and balance.
The most common symptoms of labyrinthitis are:
- Feeling that you or your surroundings are moving or spinning (vertigo)
- Feeling or being sick
- Some hearing loss
- These symptoms can vary in severity, with some people feeling that they cannot stand upright, explains the NHS.
- Other symptoms of labyrinthitis may include:
- Mild headaches
- Ringing or humming in your ear(s) (tinnitus)
- Fluid or pus leaking out of your ear(s)
- Ear pain
- Changes in vision, such as blurred vision or double vision
The symptoms of labyrinthitis can be quite severe during the first week, but usually get better after a few weeks.
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Writing in her column, Ann revealed that her doctor told her she’d feel better in 10 days and that she should be able to drive in four weeks. although the “residual effects” may last a bit longer.
For Ann, this sadly was not the case: “In fact it was more than two months before I dared drive again and five months until the labyrinthitis went away completely.”
As the NHS points out, in more severe cases the symptoms can last longer and have a significant impact on your quality of life and ability to carry out everyday tasks.
How to treat labyrinthitis
Labyrinthitis is usually treated using a combination of self-help techniques and medication.
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According to the NHS, there are a number of self-help steps you can take to ease symptoms and keep the risks at bay.
The health body recommends drinking plenty of liquid, particularly water, little and often to avoid becoming dehydrated.
In the early stages of labyrinthitis you may also feel constantly dizzy and have severe vertigo so you should rest in bed to avoid falling and injuring yourself, advises the health site.
To minimise feelings of dizziness and vertigo, you should try the following:
- Lie still in a comfortable position during an attack – on your side is often best
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid bright lights
- Try to cut out noise and anything that causes stress from your surroundings
“You should also avoid driving, using tools and machinery, or working at heights if you’re feeling dizzy and unbalanced,” advises the NHS.
In addition, your GP may prescribe medication if your symptoms are severe.
According to the NHS, this could include:
- Medication to help reduce dizziness (vestibular suppressants)
- Medication to stop you feeling sick (an antiemetic)
- Antibiotics – if labyrinthitis is thought to be caused by a bacterial infection
“Check the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication for a full list of possible side effects,” adds the health body.
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