I want to share with you a story about a woman I recently met who was having vertigo with lying down.
She is an older woman who walked into our pilates class one day. I had never met her before.
When the pilates instructor asked if anyone had any injuries or health concerns that the instructor needed to be aware of, the older woman responded, “I have vertigo but only when I am lying down, and it only lasts for about a minute.”
Hearing her description of the onset, trigger and duration of symptoms, I knew almost immediately that she likely has BPPV, which is the most common inner ear disorder. Considering her appearance, she looked to be in the age category with the highest prevalence of BPPV across the lifespan.
So after my class, I approached her to give her my business card and told her that I could probably cure her vertigo in one or two sessions, if she wanted my help.
She responded with, “Well thank you but you know it is only bad in the morning. It does not bother me in the afternoon or evening. And when it hits me, it only lasts for about a minute, so I don’t think I need to do anything about it.”
I explained to her a bit about BPPV crystals and how easy they are to fix, when you see the right provider. I confirmed for her that her description was classic BPPV.
I also discussed with her that BPPV tends to cause a constant foggy brain feeling, difficulty with concentration, short term memory and decision making, even when the vertigo symptoms are not present. When the BPPV crystals are fixed, the related cognitive issues instantly resolve.
Due to my continued commitment to reduce, if not completely eliminate, falls and their devastating consequences for the older residents of San Diego County, I also discussed with her that unaddressed BPPV also increases her risk of falling. In fact, older people with BPPV who fall are more likely to sustain a bony fracture.
I explained it is a good idea to get BPPV treated to reduce the mild cognitive impairment and heightened fall risk that accompany untreated BPPV.
Unfortunately, she was not very interested in what I shared because her vertigo didn’t last long, and she told me she would call me if the symptoms of vertigo with lying down got any worse. That kind of response is always a good reminder to me to avoid giving unsolicited advice!
Although I was not yet able to help her very much, I hope my sharing has helped you or someone you love.
To summarize, if you or your loved one are experiencing dizziness with lying down that lasts for about a minute (or less) and feels worse in the morning, it is recommended to consult with a Vestibular Specialist.
Successful evaluation and treatment of these complaints, which most likely are caused by BPPV, can completely eliminate the vertigo symptoms, as well as instantly relieve any related mild cognitive impairment, and significantly reduce the risk of falling and fracturing a bone.
Photo credit: The featured photo for this blog was taken in 2017 at a local community outreach event hosted by the San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force to educate our older friends and neighbors on reducing fall risk. From left to right, the standing row includes: Steve Pettersen of Seniors Helping Seniors, Alesia Clark of Engage Life Care, Robert Alley of HICAP, Cindy Sawyer of Southwest Lifeline, Caryn Levanthal of Senior’s Choice Handyman, and Jeani Grossbeck of Care Choice Home Care. From left to right, the seated row includes: Kindra French of 101 Mobility and myself (Dr. Kimberley Bell, DPT).
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is 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 I might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.