Vertigo: symptoms, Causes & treatments
Suffering from Vertigo or Dizziness?
You may be suffering from vertigo if you have a sensation of falling or spinning when you lie down or roll over in bed. Generally, vertigo makes you feel off balance when you walk around. Sometimes people with vertigo feel like their whole world is spinning.
Suffering from vertigo attacks tend to develop suddenly and can last for seconds, minutes, hours, or days, depending on the root cause. Symptoms of vertigo can be constant, intermittent, or triggered by certain movements and positions.
Symptoms associated with vertigo include:
What Causes Vertigo?
Vertigo and dizziness are often caused by inner ear problems, or vestibular problems. The inner ear vestibular system is important because it tells the brain about body and head movements relative to the pull of gravity.
The vestibular system keeps your balance, working along with your brain, eyes, skin, bony joints, feet, and muscles.
Suffering from vertigo symptoms usually happens due to common inner ear problems, including:
BPPV is the most common inner ear problem. BPPV happens when small particles of calcium carbonate crystals start to collect in the part of inner ear called the semicircular canals. The canals are only supposed to hold fluid so the particles cause vertigo by floating around or attaching to the inside of one, or more, of the semicircular canals.
Vestibular neuritis is another common inner ear problem that may have you suffering from vertigo. This condition is called vestibular neuritis or neuronitis if hearing is spared, and labyrinthitis if hearing is affected.
Neuritis and labyrinthitis are thought to be from a viral infection, bacterial infection, or inflammation affecting your inner ear vestibular system. A suspected viral or bacterial infection can cause inflammation around the inner ear structures +/or vestibular nerve, thus making you lose your balance or feel dizziness or vertigo.
Meniere’s Disease (MD) is thought to be caused by a buildup of fluid in the ear, called primary idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops. This buildup of fluid can cause a change in pressure in your ear making you feel off-balance, as well cause dizziness, vertigo, ear noises, and a temporary loss of hearing.
This condition is often over-diagnosed, so a second opinion is always recommended for people who have been told they have Meniere’s Disease. Some patients with Meniere’s-like episodes actually have a Meniere’s syndrome.
Meniere’s Syndrome is called secondary endolymphatic hydrops. This condition may have a deeper root cause that can be discovered and treated.
Inner ear damage can be caused by diabetes, tobacco smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, chronic ear infections, and even normal aging. Inner ear damage may also be called vestibular hypofunction or vestibular weakness. If a person with inner ear damage becomes bed-ridden due to illness, surgery, or a hospital stay, then they may experience dizziness, vertigo, or imbalance when they start moving around again due to vestibular decompensation.
What is the Bell Method®?
There are many other causes of vertigo, so a root cause analysis by an expert is the most important step for someone suffering with vertigo.
The treatment plan for vertigo must be created specifically to address the root cause(s).
She and her team consider the whole person, all the systems of the body, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors in discovering the root cause of vertigo symptoms.
At Kim Bell Physical Therapy, Inc., we use an integrated approach to analyzing your vertigo symptoms.
The Bell Method® includes the assessment of:
- Vestibular system, or inner ear
- Visual system
- Endocrine system
- Cardiac system
- Circulatory system
- Neurological system (central and peripheral nervous system)
- Lymphatic system
- Orthopedic issues (bones, ligaments, fascia, and muscles throughout the whole body)
- Teeth and dental work
- Postural alignment
- Pain (anywhere in the body)
- Emotional stress and psychological causes
- Sleeping position and sleep quality
- Medication side effects and drug interactions
- Alcohol use
- Nutritional concerns
- Bladder control
- Undetected food sensitivities
- Environmental triggers like lighting and chemical sensitivities
- Exposure to toxins
- History of head or neck trauma
- History of migraine headaches
- History of chronic ear infections or sinus infections
- Hearing loss
- Ear noises
- Motion sensitivity in moving vehicles
- Workstation ergonomics
- Computer habits
- Sitting and lounging positions
- Body mechanics
- Glasses (or contacts)
- Effects of travel and weather
- Triggering movements
- Other medical conditions
How to Treat Vertigo
If you are suffering from vertigo constantly, you may find that it goes away without any treatment. The reason is because the brain has the ability to adapt when your inner ear changes. Depending on the root cause and your brain’s ability to adapt, vertigo may resolve on its own or it may persist.
There are ways to treat people suffering from vertigo, including:
Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers
With this type of treatment, you participate in a series of very targeted head/body movements to help treat BPPV. The movements are done in a way to help remove the calcium crystal deposits in the inner ear canal.
This type of specialized physical therapy is designed to help strengthen the vestibular system, or the inner balance system. There is a lot of evidence to support the success of this type of specialized care.
Vestibular Rehab corrects the signals that your inner ear balance system sends to your brain about your body and head movements in relation to gravity.
If you are suffering from vertigo, this type of rehabilitation may also help by training your brain to rely on your other senses to reduce the vertigo symptoms. Other senses include your vision, your feet, and your sense of touch from skin and bony joints.
Some doctors will give medication to relieve vertigo symptoms, such as nausea and or motion sickness. If vertigo is if caused by an inner ear infection, then a round of steroids, antibiotics, +/or anti-virals may be prescribed by your doctor.
Medications may be necessary and can be valuable, but it is important to always seek a root cause evaluation and specialized treatment by a Vertigo Expert.
All medications should be taken as prescribed by your doctor but all medications have side effects, so it is important to work with your healthcare providers to reduce your need for long term medications, if possible.
If your vertigo symptoms are caused by a more serious problem, such as a stroke or a brain tumor, then surgery may help treat your vertigo. Your doctor will most likely recommend vestibular rehabilitation after surgery.
All of these methods are ways to treat people suffering from vertigo.
For more vertigo resources and information
Please check out our sister site, VertigoDetective.com
Dr. Kim Bell, DPT – San Diego’s Vertigo Expert
Dr. Bell and her team specialize in Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers for resolving all types of BPPV, even the most difficult and complex cases.
About 85-90% of the time, simple cases of BPPV can be resolved in 1-2 treatment sessions.
The outcome of The Bell Method® root cause analysis includes any combination of:
(1) follow up visits with Dr. Bell or her team for hands-on treatments and exercise instruction
(2) patient education and teaching for self-care management
(3) referrals to other specialists
(4) care coordination and case management
(5) caregiver training
Dr. Kim Bell, DPT Excels At:
- 1. Digging for the deepest root cause(s) in each case by performing a detailed, comprehensive root cause analysis through a patient interview and hands on exam
- 2. Looking at the whole big picture of how all the root causes are interacting inside the body and possibly triggering each other to develop a multifaceted treatment plan,
- 3. Developing an individualized plan of care with vestibular physical therapy interventions and appropriate exercises to address causes of dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, and unsteadiness that fall within her scope of practice,
- 4. Providing patient education and handouts that empower patients to understand what is causing their uncomfortable symptoms and what to do for each root cause,
- 5. Listening attentively and offering compassion, empathy, and spiritual support for patients as they recover, and
- 6. Connecting patients with resources and the right providers to address aspects of their case that are outside the scope of physical therapy.
Learn More About Vertigo
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