She Literally Saved My Life

Balance specialist goes above and beyond when patient’s dizziness persists.

When Karen Mooresmith was in high school she enrolled in a speech class but hated it. She soon dropped the class, electing instead for the only other option for that semester, a business law course.

To her surprise, she fell in love with the subject and later resolved to forge a career in law, ultimately spending 30 years as a legal secretary/paralegal.

“Over the years, I’ve done estate work, contract work, real estate work, domestic work and criminal work,” shares Karen, 68. “It all depended on the attorneys I worked for and what type of law they practiced. Domestic law and criminal law were my least favorites, and contract law was boring. I enjoyed real estate work and loan closings.”

Karen Mooresmith

Karen Mooresmith

 

While living and working in Alabama many years ago, Karen developed vertigo, a dizzying sensation that makes the individual feel as if he or she or the environment is spinning. Her primary care physician at the time taught her exercises she could do at home to counter the sensation. Those exercises worked for mild bouts, but in early May of this year, Karen suffered a severe spell of vertigo that her exercises could not alleviate.

“I felt so lightheaded and dizzy that I couldn’t walk straight and even lost my balance and fell a few times,” Karen remembers. “One time I fell and hit my head on the kitchen counter. I also fell on the sidewalk once and in the garage. My husband got hearing aids through Trinity Hearing & Balance Center, so he suggested I go see Dr. Hansen.”

Kelly Hansen, AuD, and her associates, Nikki Goldowski-Richa, AuD, and Kayla Dub, AuD, treat all types of hearing loss, balance disorders and hearing-related conditions at their New Port Richey practice. In treating Karen, Dr. Hansen used an advanced, software-driven machine called the Epley Omniax System to determine the cause of her dizziness.

“Our testing confirmed that Karen suffered with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, which is the most common cause of episodic vertigo,” Dr. Hansen reveals. “BPPV is caused by small crystals of calcium carbonate called otoconia that get into the inner ear’s balance mechanisms. When those particles become loose in the semicircular canals, a sensation of movement and dizziness
is triggered.” 

The Epley Omniax System includes a rotating patient chair that plays a prominent role in repositioning the otoconia. The chair is computer controlled, so it can put patients in the precise positions necessary to move the loose crystals back where they belong.

The Next Step

Through her use of the Epley Omniax System, Dr. Hansen succeeded in repositioning the crystals in Karen’s ears. But some of Karen’s
symptoms persisted.  

“I thought I was OK after the chair treatment, but I continued to experience some dizziness and balance issues,” Karen confirms. “Then on May 26, I fell again.”

The next day, she returned to Trinity Hearing & Balance Center, where
Dr. Hansen checked to see if Karen had loose crystals again.

“Karen told me that she was getting dizzy every time she went from a sitting to a standing position or when she moved from lying down to standing up,”
Dr. Hansen reports. “I reevaluated her in the Omniax chair, and she did not have positional vertigo.”

After ruling out BPPV, Dr. Hansen dug deeper.

“If the problem is not with the inner ear, we take the next step,” the audiologist explains. “We look for other potential causes for the patient’s symptoms. We may not be the appropriate specialists to treat the problem once it’s identified, but we can direct the patient to the right providers that can address the cause of their dizziness.” 

Because Karen’s symptoms occurred when she went from sitting or lying down to standing, Dr. Hansen suspected that the issue might be Karen’s blood pressure, possibly orthostatic hypotension, a form of low blood pressure that occurs when standing up from a lying or
sitting position. 

But the real problem,
Dr. Hansen soon discovered, was just the opposite.

“I took Karen’s blood pressure when sitting and it was sky high,” Dr. Hansen discloses. “The first time I took it, it was 195 over 124, and the second time it was 204 over 124. Upon standing after two minutes, it remained elevated.”

Dr. Hansen recommended that Karen go straight to the emergency room or her primary care provider.

“Dr. Hansen took my blood pressure and did not like the reading,” Karen recalls. “She helped me stand up for a few minutes and took my blood pressure again. Then she took her own blood pressure to make sure the device was working properly because she was astonished at how high mine was.”

“My Lifesaver and Angel”

Taking Dr. Hansen’s advice, Karen contacted her primary care physician’s office, but the doctor was on vacation for the Memorial Day weekend. Her husband then took her to the Medical Center of Trinity. 

When she arrived at the hospital, her blood pressure measured 209 over 130.

“I ended up in the hospital for three days,” Karen reveals. “Dr. Hansen literally saved my life. She could have said, You don’t have crystals. Have a nice weekend, but she did not. She was such a caring person. She was extremely concerned about what she discovered about my blood pressure.

“If Dr. Hansen hadn’t checked my blood pressure, I could have gone home, had a cookout with my family and chances are I would have had a stroke before the end of the weekend. I never would have known I had blood pressure issues if it hadn’t been for Dr. Hansen. Her concern went above and beyond just being my audiologist. Dr. Hansen’s my lifesaver and angel.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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    • Trinity Hearing & Balance Center

      Trinity Hearing & Balance Center utilizes state-of-the-art equipment to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of many different types of dizziness and balance disorders. You no longer have to "learn to live" with it. The great news is that diz... Read More

    • Kelly Hansen

      Dr. Kelly Hansen obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana and her Doctorate of Audiology degree from Arizona School of Health Sciences in Mesa, Arizona.  Throughout her career, Dr. Hans... Read More

    • Kelly Hansen

      Dr. Kelly Hansen obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana and her Doctorate of Audiology degree from Arizona School of Health Sciences in Mesa, Arizona.  Throughout her career, Dr. Hans... Read More