US Embassy workers in Cuba have reported unusual noises, which have resulted in dizziness, nausea, severe headaches, balance problems and tinnitus.
The number of victims is increasing, and there is now a possibility tourists to Cuba are also being affected by invisible acoustic attacks, which have caused severe damage to the inner ear. The Vestibular Disorders Association (VeDA) is working to increase awareness of the chronic problems these people are now most likely experiencing, and the impact vestibular-type symptoms can have on patients and their families.
The US government workers involved in these attacks have undergone health evaluations for vestibular, cognitive, vision, balance, hearing and memory problems. “People that are experiencing symptoms like these are significantly compromised,” says Cynthia Ryan, VeDa Executive Director. “Vestibular disorders can have a terrible effect on your quality of life, ranging from mild irritation to complete disability. Some are unable to work or take care of their families, not to mention themselves.”
Vestibular damage can create havoc. As the brain, eyes and inner ears communicate with each other, any amount of dysfunction can upset the delicate equilibrium, resulting in dizziness and imbalance. Extensive medical testing is needed to diagnosis any damage or impairment, and often people go years without receiving the correct diagnosis. In addition to the physical symptoms there is cognitive impairment, which can be very emotionally frustrating. It is not uncommon for vestibular patients to suffer from depression, anxiety and extreme fatigue as a result of the body working hard to stay balanced.
“At my worst I was confined to bed because I was so dizzy, unbalanced on my feet, cognitively impaired, and in a constant state of unrelenting fatigue,” says Louise Geib, a vestibular patient and President of VeDA’s board of directors. “I got better by getting to the right doctors and utilizing VeDA’s patient education resources, but it was a very dark time physically and emotionally.”
“While the cause of the US government workers health symptoms is unclear, what we do know is that they need help managing their symptoms and learning to cope. VeDA is poised to provide that help. We hope our message reaches these unfortunate victims and anyone else experiencing similar symptoms,” says Ryan.
For over 30 years, VeDA has been helping vestibular patients and their families discover a life rebalanced. VeDA is committed to working with healthcare professionals to reduce diagnosis times and connect patients to resources that help them live a fulfilling life with vestibular dysfunction. VeDA provides support, patient education materials, and resources to connect people to medical professionals in vestibular medicine and rehabilitation. About 35% of the US population over 40 will experience vestibular issues at some point in their life. For more information, visit vestibular.org.