Got Vertigo?

Simple Treatment Can Help Steady Spinning Sensations
Do you experience a spinning sensation when you lie down, roll over in bed, or look up? If so, you may be suffering from vertigo, also known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV.

There are many causes of dizziness and one of the most common types is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This form of dizziness is due to a disturbance of the vestibular system within the inner ear, which helps to control our balance and equilibrium.

Benign indicates that the condition is not life threatening

Paroxysmal means that it occurs abruptly and lasts only seconds to minutes

Positional implies that the symptoms are provoked with a change in position

Vertigo is described as a spinning sensation

Causes of vertigo

The vestibular system coordinates what we see, hear and feel with movements from our head and body. The information is relayed to the brain and this is what helps to control our balance. BPPV is caused by free-floating calcium carbonate particles that become displaced within the inner ear and often affect our balance.

Less common causes of vertigo may include stroke, blood pressure or heart problems, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches. Medications, including prescriptive and over-the-counter, may also cause vertigo.

Symptoms of vertigo

Symptoms of BPPV may include any or all of the following: dizziness, a sensation of spinning, imbalance or unsteadiness, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, and nausea. Symptoms can be quite variable from person to person with regards to intensity, frequency and duration. These symptoms can be quite disruptive to social and work activities. Dizziness and imbalance can also create a fear of falling and potentially increase the risk for falls.

Diagnosis

Most cases of vertigo are harmless. However, any signs or symptoms of vertigo warrant an evaluation by a physician. The diagnosis of BPPV is based upon a medical history and physical examination. The Dix-Hallpike maneuver is a test that provokes symptoms and can confirm a diagnosis of vertigo. Occasionally auditory tests, lab work and other diagnostic tests are performed to rule out other diagnoses. Once BPPV has been confirmed, vestibular rehabilitation is the hallmark treatment.

Treatment

BPPV is treated with a non-invasive maneuver called canalith repositioning. This involves a series of head positions to clear the calcium particles out of the canal within the inner ear. Since BPPV may affect your ability to maintain your balance, vestibular rehabilitation therapy can help you to become steadier on your feet. Vestibular therapy is an important part of treatment for vestibular disorders and is directed by a trained physical therapist. Treatment is guided through a program that is symptom-specific and individualized to each person’s needs. After a thorough evaluation of strength, coordination, balance reactions, and positional vertigo testing, a treatment plan will be developed and implemented.

If you suspect that you are suffering from vertigo, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Vertigo is not a disease but a symptom that can have many causes and is easily treated, in most cases.