where Joey was diagnosed with epilepsy and pre-
scribed antiseizure drugs and antidepressants. But
Debbie Zarello recalls the doctor's recommendation.
"She wanted to put him on pretty serious drugs.
Some were old psychiatric medications with a ton of
side effects," she says. "We just didn't want to go
that route." After spending a year to no avail with
specialists at another hospital, they found Amor
Mehta, MD, an Ocean County neurologist. Under
Dr. Mehta's care, Joey's seizures stopped, but the
migraines and vertigo didn't. Dr. Mehta couldn't get
Joey out of his mind. He was determined to find an
answer. A luncheon that he almost didn't attend led
him to one.
cular canal dehiscence--also called third window
syndrome, so named because of an abnormal open-
underneath the brain, that creates a third window in the inner
ear. On his way home from the lecture, Dr. Mehta called Debbie
Zarello, told her what he had learned, and gave her Dr.
Wackym's contact information, advising her to consult with him
immediately. That was when the Zarellos finally learned what
was ailing Joey.
to the inner ear, which is filled with fluid. Normally,
causes an asymmetric stimulation of gravity receptors between
the two inner ears," Dr. Wackym says. "Patients talk about
how loud sounds make them dizzy and sometimes even feel like
the floor is falling out from under them. They can hear internal
sounds, such as their voice resonating. Some can even hear
their eyes and joints moving."
spatial orientation. "Frequently, patients feel detached, feel like
the walls are breathing and floors are moving, as if they're
walking on a trampoline or deck of a boat; they can even have
out-of-body experiences," Dr. Wackym says.
these patients to be misdiagnosed with psychiatric problems.
Some have seen as many as 40 doctors before finally getting to
event such as a car accident or sports injury, forms the third
window. In some cases, the bone wears away over time. There
may be a genetic component to the probability of developing
third window, since Dr. Wackym has encountered five mother-