This blog describes how to create your short and concise summary for explaining your dizziness and vertigo to a healthcare provider. I hope this saves you time during your visit!
A lot of patients have difficulty describing their symptoms. This leads to confusion for providers and frustration for patients. Some patients will say something like they’re walking around in a fog. Other patients will describe feeling like they are in a swirl or a black hole of some sort.
Using these descriptions for explaining your dizziness and vertigo are helpful in order to communicate with the providers back and forth about how you’re improving during the course of their care, but in general, they are not very helpful in the diagnostic process.
In this blog, I list questions you will need to answer to provide the information that a healthcare provider will really need to review in your summary to help you get an accurate diagnosis. I suggest you copy those questions and answer them to start. Explaining your dizziness and vertigo information to someone who specializes in dizziness and vertigo, will assist them in getting you the proper diagnosis and proper care on a fast track.
The data that your providers really need include your symptom onset, possible trigger, and how long the symptoms last. You can record this using your laptop, on a phone, you can write the information down like a log or a notebook, and if you’re too sick to write it down, you can ask somebody to help you create this summary.
Other information that is important when explaining your dizziness and vertigo is to note how your hearing is affected with the onset of dizziness or vertigo. Did you lose some of your hearing, did your hearing change, did it come back, did it start pulsing or ringing or roaring, whistling? Any change to your hearing should be noted.
Did you have any headache co-occurring with your symptoms?
Make a note of any feelings of being off-balance when explaining dizziness and vertigo.
About 50% of the survey participants (in a survey of 521 people) reported a fall as a result of their dizziness. About 15% of survey participants had injuries so severe that they had to go to the emergency room.
When explaining your dizziness and vertigo, make a note of any falls that you had and of any injuries that you sustained.
Include in your summary any triggering activities that you notice are causing discomfort while you are performing them, any movements that you’ve decided to avoid because you’re afraid that they will trigger symptoms, and how this is affecting your quality of life and your participation in society.
Some people are not able to eat because of nausea. If this has affected your ability to eat, or your ability to exercise, make a note of that.
How are you sleeping? Are you having to sleep upright to avoid dizziness or vertigo? Are you being woken up in the middle of the night with bed spins?
In this blog, I will list common triggering positions that you may want to include in your summary of your vertigo experience.
For more tips on preparing for a healthcare visit, click here.
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.
Thank you so very much, Dr. Bell for this article. I wonder if you have a similar article on giving an “elevator speech” to friends, family, and colleagues.
I wrote this article and this article about my journey discovering how much to share with friends and family about vestibular health issues.
It is a tough balance. It is important to be honest, but maintain appropriate boundaries with people outside your immediate support system.
If you have someone close to you who really needs to know about what is happening with you, then you may want to watch my most popular lecture on YouTube.
You can find it here.
I hope this information is helpful! Every relationship is unique, so you have to decide how much to share in each situation.
I wish you all the best.
Dr. Kim Bell, DPT
Hello Madam..My name is Maher. I am from Bangladesh..i have seen your videos in youtube about vertigo Dizziness..From 2016 i have been suffering vertigo dizziness problem..already visit a lot doctor’s in my country..still got zero result from them..its come from my left ear, when its get stuck like jam i feel dizzy..can’t control my walking balance..even my foot also get stuck… sometimes i even cried ..cause its not going away..what should i do madam…
I am sorry to hear that you have gotten zero results! Sadly, that is very common.
This article and this article may help you.
This article may also be helpful regarding the emotional impact.
I hope you find answers and get relief soon!
Kim Bell, DPT
This is very helpful. I realized after my initial doctor visit that the more precisely you can describe the what and when the easier it is for your doctors to help since in many instances a diagnosis is a process of elimination as to what it’s not.
I have suffered with the clinical signs of what was finally diagnosed BPPV for 16 months. Crystals were discovered in right posterior canal and several epley maneuvers done by audiologist. ENT also consulted. Symptoms have persisted including headaches and floaty imbalance so Vestibular physical therapy started. After 3 months I still am suffering from symptoms though. I still feel very disabled. Because there was delay in the proper diagnosis should I expect that it will take longer with my vestibular rehabilitation than 3 months.?
I am sorry to hear this terrible story! It is all too common for BPPV to go undiagnosed, so you are not alone.
You may have an upper cervical problem after getting Epley maneuvers done.
In general, headaches and floatiness may be associated with C1 and C2 problems. This can also be related to recurrent migraines.
I talk more about this upper cervical issues in two blogs:
Dizziness and Neck 1
Dizziness and Neck 2
I suggest you search for an orthopedic manual physical therapist to evaluate your upper cervical area using this Directory.
In this article, I discuss how upper cervical problems can limit outcomes with vestibular PT due to the neck getting aggravated.
Recurrent migraine due to upper cervical problems can be improved after the upper cervical issues are treated.
I hope you feel better soon!