The Dizziness Epidemic

Why are so many players leaving the field with "dizziness" this year? First, it was Conor Jackson who turned out to have Valley Fever - though all that means is that a fungus was detected in his system and that he had certain symptoms. Chances are that was just a working hypothesis. Then Joey Votto was dizzy, and it turned out he had an inner ear infection. But that, too, was just a guess, and now it turns out "stress" is the problem.

Denard Span left Tuesday's game with "dizziness," and it was the second time he'd suffered from the malady this week. It turns out that Jorge Cantu is also battling the mysterious affliction, which has now lingered for several days.

There are a few questions that come to mind in light of this: (1) Is there something unique to the 2009 baseball player that makes him more susceptible to being dizzy than the rest of us; (2) Is the entire population suffering from some bacteria or virus that causes dizziness, and it's merely exacerbated by the conditions under which baseball players play. In other words, if you have a desk job, you push through it, but if you have to track a ball in the lights in front of 30,000 people, you cannot; (3) Is this similar to the anxiety disorder proliferation in that players are only now comfortable admitting something's not right, whereas in the past, they would just play (often poorly) through the ailment without saying anything?

Whatever it is it also shows how woefully inadequate the very best doctors are in treating these players. I assume all major leaguers see first-rate doctors, and the fact that no common cause or even coherent explanation has been found is striking. Even Jackson who was diagnosed with Valley Fever can't feel too confident that's the cause. That ailment usually afflicts only those with weakened immune systems, not professional athletes in their prime. And if some other ailment weakened his immune system to make him susceptible to fungal infection, what is that? And why did Votto's "stress" have similar physical symptoms to these other players'? When Zack Greinke was stressed, he didn't claim to be dizzy at first.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I can't remember dizziness being a common reason for players to leave games unless it followed a recent concussion, and it's surprising that no explanation for the phenomenon has been offered at this point. In fact, I'm not sure baseball's even acknowledged it.


By: ephinz
On: 6/11/2009 5:17:00 AM
Imbuing doctors with the omnipotence that is the province of God does a lot to hide how much is unknown. Doctors can only know what they study and how it tells them to experience it, and what they study was already known.

For all we know "flu-like symptoms" included dizziness. Now it is being broken out from that catch-all phrase which typically entails a reason for a player to miss a game or two but no more. Always thought FLS was a digestive reaction to bad Mexican and/or a really bad hangover but maybe it included dizziness, too.
By: daddymag
On: 6/11/2009 6:26:00 AM
Can't remember who wrote it, but someone on SI said about two or three years ago... no one's paying attention to the ban on simulants because theyr'e not steroids. But watch, more players will have to take more days off during the season, especially older players. So yeah, maybe in the old days a guy might just pop a few greenies and be good to go, and never complain about anything borderline.
By: jhermann
On: 6/11/2009 9:22:00 AM
I know it seems strange. But, about five years ago, I started having dizzy spells, then everything started to spin. I thought I was having a stroke or something. I visited my doctor, he gave me anti-vert (a medicine to treat vertigo). He diagnosed me with Labrynthitis (spelling). This is an inflammation in the the inner ear due to a virus. What virus it was my doctor did not know. I could not get out of bed for almost a month. So, it is real. It is inexplicable. And, it rocks your world, as you cannot eat or do most of your daily tasks. I run twenty-five to thirty miles a week, and then to be bedridden all of a sudden. It defies explanation. And, these players livelihood completely depends upon playing. Someone can steal the player's position why he is on the DL. So, whatever it is, the affliction is real. I know it causes havoc on our fantasy teams.
By: tumanic
On: 6/11/2009 10:27:00 AM
Sure does seem to be an epidemic this year, no doubt...I have never read so many injury updates with "dizziness" being the main problem. Figures it would be the year I have Votto on almost all of my teams. It sure puts a crimp into my theory of predicting injuries....grrrrrr!
By: Erik Siegrist
On: 6/11/2009 10:30:00 AM
The word on Cantu's dizziness is that it's a reaction to cholesterol medication, FWIW...
By: herbilk
On: 6/11/2009 11:19:00 AM
Dizziness due to an inner ear infection or problem is actually common. Ben Sheets missed time due to that issue back in 2005 and I know people who have had to take medication. I think some people are combining the inner ear problems with the new anxiety disorders that are being diagnosed and the overall problem looks bigger than it is.
By: smckeown
On: 6/11/2009 12:14:00 PM
The aftereffects of PEDs...

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