Today we are going to answer the frequently asked question, “How can I manage an episode of vertigo?” And I have 3 tips to help you if you are experiencing an episode of vertigo.
First, you want to make sure that you get to an area that’s safe so that you can stabilize yourself, either by sitting down on a nearby chair or couch, or leaning against a nearby wall, [railing], stable pole or column. And if there are no structures around to lean against or sit on, you can spread your feet wider so that you have better balance. Maybe you can ask somebody nearby to help you by holding onto them.
The first thing you want to do to manage an episode of vertigo is get safe by lying down propped up on two pillows, sitting down, leaning against a wall, holding onto someone, or spreading your feet wide – so that you don’t fall. If you lie down, avoid lying flat.
The second thing you want to do is stop moving your head and stare at a vertical line [or close your eyes if that feels better].
The vestibular system is stimulated by head motion and if we keep our head still, essentially we’re reducing the stimulation of the vestibular system. And we’re allowing our visual system to dominate the vestibular input that’s making us feel dizzy or having vertigo. [If your eyes are bouncing around, you may feel better by keeping them closed.]
We want to stabilize ourselves, then we want to stop moving our head and stare at a vertical line [or close your eyes].
The third thing you should do to manage an episode of dizziness and vertigo is just to try to relax and breathe. A lot times what happens is we get so excited or so upset about our symptoms that we begin to have anxiety and that makes our symptoms worse [because we hold our breath or breathe too fast].
So if you start to experience dizziness or vertigo, my recommendation is for you to stabilize yourself, stop moving your head, stare at a vertical line [or close your eyes] – and just relax and breathe until the episode goes away.
If you are suffering with an episode of dizziness or vertigo, follow my top 3 tips to manage an episode of vertigo, which are:
- To stabilize yourself by lying down propped up on two pillows, sitting down, leaning against a wall, spreading your feet wide or holding on to somebody nearby so that you don’t fall;
- To stop moving your head and stare at a vertical line [or close your eyes], and just
- To relax and breathe until your symptoms go away.
If your symptoms continue to get worse, you can’t get any relief or you are uncertain of the cause of your symptoms, go ahead and contact your doctor. Your doctor may want to perform an examination or refer you to a Specialist. [When you see you doctor, you can] ask for a referral to a Vestibular Specialist who can help you further evaluate your dizziness and vertigo, to figure out what the cause is and if there is any hope for resolving your symptoms.
[You can also access Vestibular Rehabilitation physical therapy services in many US states, such as California, without a physician’s referral. I recommend for you to search for a Vestibular Specialist in your area at Vestibular.org, to identify the root cause of your symptoms of dizziness and vertigo.
In extreme cases, you may need to seek emergency care. Some patients even need to stay overnight in the hospital for further evaluation, medical management and supervision to prevent falls.]
Afterthought: Comments are currently turned “off” for my YouTube channel but previously, I received a very insightful comment from a woman who stated that she felt better when she closed her eyes because she has nystagmus – or bouncing of her eyes when she experiences vertigo. I really appreciate her sharing of her experience, and have added the words in parentheses above to include her comment with my tips on managing an episode of vertigo.
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.