The Vestibular Migraine Community

I called Dr. Hain's office


As you all know, Dr. Timothy Hain in Chicago is one of the U.S. experts on dizzy disorders. I’ve been aware of him for the past 20 years and have read much of his website. I’m not confident in my diagnoses (first vestibular neuronitis, then vestibular migraine) and was considering finding another specialist in our area. I’ve told my husband a little bit about the research that I’ve done, and about Dr. Hain, so my husband said, “Why don’t you just go to that guy in Chicago?”

It would be a long trip, halfway across the country, but I decided to call his office. The woman I spoke with explained that for out-of-town patients, he will see them once but won’t treat them on an ongoing basis as long-distance patients. That’s fine with me; I figured if he can figure out what I have and what I need to do, I can find a doctor here who will follow his recommendation. She said that his first opening for a new patient would be in February, but that for out-of-town patients they require them to first fill out his online questionnaire. Then he reviews the questionnaire and determines whether he is willing to see the person before they will schedule an appointment.

So I filled out the questionnaire, which probably took a good two hours (no exaggeration). It was extensive and I had to dig out all of my test results, plus list every drug, vitamin, supplement, etc., that I now take or have taken in the past five years, plus answer all sorts of questions about my symptoms. The questionnaire also had a few open-ended questions where they allowed up to 3,000-character responses, so I used those to write as much as I could about my history and such.

I submitted it probably about mid-morning on a weekday, expecting to hear back in maybe a week. To my surprise, at 5:00pm that same day I got a call from his office. Wow! The woman who called said that he had reviewed it and that I am a candidate to be seen by him. Woo hoo! But she said that because I am so far away, he gave her a list of four neuro-otologists closer to my home in case I would like to avoid such a long trip.

I told her that I’d investigate the list of doctors and then if I still wanted to make an appointment in Chicago, I’d call her back. A trip to Chicago in February isn’t particularly appealing (snowstorms are a possibility), so I reasoned that if one of the closer doctors sounded promising, maybe I could try him first and then if I still wasn’t satisfied, I could make an appointment to see Dr. Hain and by then it would probably be for April or May, which would be much better weather for traveling.

So, I researched the other three doctors and made an appointment for January with this one, Dr. John Li: Look at that page-- interestingly, he’s an expert in BPPV and has taught the Epley maneuver alongside Dr. Epley himself. He has also invented a couple of surgical tools.


Hi Manatee,

I know Dr.Hain does a phone consult too. You fax him all your test results and he will review and you can have an appointment on the phone. I believe on the phone is much cheaper as no hotels and flights involved. If he still thinks he needs to see you in person to access balance and physical examination then worthwhile to fly. He can answer questions on the phone consult which I thought would be valuable.

I also think what is valuable in a consult with Dr.Hain is the sheer number of dizzy patients he has seen and treated.(20K+) . Dr.Cherchi in same clinic is also considered good.


Thank you. That’s a definite possibility. I wonder why they didn’t mention that when I called.

EDIT: I just looked at his website again and I don’t think they do telephone consults any more. There’s a link for it in the left-hand column on this page:, but the link doesn’t go anywhere.

Plus, they sent me a form to sign if I did end up making an appointment. It is for people who travel from out of town for an appointment and, in part, this is what it says: “We are happy to offer a one-time-only consultation as a second opinion for some out-of-state patients. Provision of medical care requires periodic face-to-face physical examinations, but follow-up visits are usually impractical for out-of-state patients. Attempting medical management “remotely” (without face-to-face examinations) is generally unsafe. Therefore, please understand that after the one-time-only visit, we will discharge you. Along with the consultation documenting our assessment and recommendations, we will release you back to your referring physicians, or transfer your care to a local physician.”


At any cost please see Dr. Hans. If he can’t figure out see if you have rotational Vertebral artery syndrome. Do you have a b/p difference of 20 between your arms and if so it could be due vascular issue too (subclavian steal syndrome )


I doubt I have either of these. I’m a swimmer (I work out regularly with a swim team) and I also participate in swim meets and open water races and don’t have any problems when I’m swimming, which involves a lot of head rotation!


Just an FYI there is a lady on Healthboards who picked up a fistula whilst swimming. It eventually healed but caused several years of symptoms. User xtine04


Interesting. I’m not going to stop swimming, though. I’ve been swimming and competing for 30 years! (And, actually, the neuro-otologist that I saw 19 years ago told me to keep swimming, as all of the head-turning would be good therapy for my brain to help train it to compensate.)


Sure. As you please.

As you may remember I got my fistula from spraying my domestic shower water into my ear at surprisingly low pressure.

My point is to demonstrate how easily one can acquire a fistula even with low water pressure. Removal or insertion of ear plugs could also do it depending on how blocked your eustachian tube is.

Inner ear windows are supposed to be two of the thinnest membranes in the body.

An episodically leaking fistula is a known cause of vertigo.


Yes, I’ll definitely be asking the specialist about this in January.

But if it is a fistula, there’s not much that can be done about it, is there?


Jury is out unfortunately but yes observing the forums surgery doesn’t seem to relieve people of symptoms in the majority of cases.


If so, could it be something else that is producing the symptoms?


Well I think fistulas create secondary hydrops which you can’t fix with surgery directly. You have to wait for it to spontaneously burn out once the driver (fistula?) has healed. My surgeon asures me that it burns out eventually but can take years. Not sure if he’s just trying to make me feel better …