A frequently asked question (FAQ) that I hear very often from people is “Why can’t I ride on a rollercoaster?”

Sometimes I hear, “I haven’t been able to ride on a rollercoaster for years, but when I was a kid I was able to.”

My answer is that sometimes we can be genetically predisposed to what’s called “motion sensitivity.” This means maybe it runs in our family – our grandparents, our parents, maybe some of our siblings – to complain of sensitivity to motion. This complaint may occur while riding in plane, riding in a train, riding on a rollercoaster, or riding on a boat.

If that sort of thing [genetic motion sensitivity] runs in our family, it may be that we can’t completely resolve the discomfort but we can learn how to live with it in a way that doesn’t impair our life, a way that allows us to live a full and active life with tools and strategies to manage our symptoms.

But recently I’ve had a run of new patients who came to me – young women in their 30s and 40s – and their only complaint was that they couldn’t ride on rollercoasters with their young sons. When I did a vestibular evaluation for them, it turned out they had BPPV which is the most common vestibular cause of vertigo.

Now keep in mind they weren’t complaining of any vertigo or any balance problems. Their only symptom was not being able to ride the rollercoaster.

After we treated their BPPV by getting the crystals in the inner ear to go back to where they’re supposed to be or “home base,” then all these patients that I recently treated were able to go back on rollercoasters with their young children and not have a flare up in symptoms.

So what I would recommend, if you are someone who can’t ride on a rollercoaster, is for you to seek out a Vestibular Specialist in your area for an evaluation.

You can find a Vestibular Provider at vestibular.org, which is the Vestibular Disorders Association. Then you can find someone to evaluate your inner ear and treat it, or educate you on how to manage your symptoms if this is something you are going to have to learn to live with.

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