I want to tell you a story that illustrates the current healthcare crisis in the United States which explains why I tirelessly advocate for the best practices for dizzy patients and educate other clinicians on managing dizzy patients.
One of my friends went to his Primary Care Doctor this week for a routine follow up visit to check on a medical condition.
During the course of the visit, my friend lied down on the treatment table to get examined by the doctor.
Unfortunately, a severe and paralyzing episode of vertigo and dizziness lying down was provoked for him in that moment.
He was unable to sit up or move. He felt like he was going to fall off the table!
The physician did not offer any suggestions about what to do or help him get relief in any way.
Instead the physician said, “Lie here and rest until you feel better. I have other patients waiting. I will send my assistant to check on you in about ten minutes to make sure you can safely drive home. You should get over the vertigo in a week or so.”
Then the physician left the room.
My friend lied there on his back on the table for about 30 minutes before he was able to safely stand up and walk to his car.
He was so upset that he called me hours later when he got home to tell me he felt disregarded, mismanaged and misled by his physician.
I listened to his whole story and replied, “Well, I am very sorry for what you experienced today and your frustration is totally valid. Now you are beginning to understand why I do what I do. We are currently in a healthcare crisis in this country and many insurance-based healthcare providers are often not able to spend enough time with patients to meet their needs because they have other patients waiting. It is often as frustrating for them as it is for you.”
He said “That is exactly right.”
And I heard him exhale.
In order to offer relief to both patients and providers when an attack of vertigo occurs unexpectedly during a routine visit, I would like to share the following tips to manage an acute episode provoked by vertigo and dizziness lying down:
- Prop the patient up on 2-3 pillows and avoid lying flat.
- Ground the patient by focusing on skin contact with the supportive surfaces.
- Focus the patient’s eyes on a vertical line and keep the patient’s head still.
- Apply ice to the back of the patient’s neck where the skull meets the spine for 10-15 minutes.
I have also created a video that has tips on managing an episode of vertigo on my YouTube channel. The experience of vertigo can provoke anxiety, and even a panic attack in some cases, so it is very important for the person responding to the situation to remain calm and clear about what to do.
If severe vertigo persists and the patient is unable to stand or walk, the patient may need emergency medical care due to the risk of adverse events like fractures and head injuries that can occur from falling while dizzy.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.