If you feel like the environment around you is spinning and moving, and you’re losing balance, you may be suffering from vertigo.
Vertigo happens when your nerves send a message to your brain saying you’re in motion when you’re not. It often feels like being seasick on dry land. In most cases, your vertigo won’t last for longer than a few minutes. However, despite the fact that vertigo isn’t as severe as other ailments, it can still make everyday life difficult.
Here’s what you need to know in order to seek correct treatment for vertigo
Types of Vertigo
Although vertigo isn’t a disease but a symptom of a medical condition, there are two common types of vertigo: peripheral and central. Knowing what kind of vertigo you have may help your chiropractor figure out what’s causing your vertigo.
Peripheral Vertigo is the most common form of vertigo and is generally caused by inner ear issues. Your inner ear controls your balance, and a loss of balance will make you feel as if you just got off of a roller coaster.
Causes of Inner Ear Trouble That Lead to Peripheral Vertigo:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Vestibular Neuronitus
- Ménière’s Disease
- Perilymph Fistula
- Superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome (SSCDS)
While episodes of Peripheral Vertigo tend to come and go quickly, episodes of Central Vertigo last longer and hit you without warning. Central Vertigo is more debilitating than Peripheral, and people experiencing it may be unable to walk or stand. Central Vertigo is often caused by a more serious medical condition like a brain or head injury.
Central Vertigo Causes Include:
- Head injuries
- Illness or infection
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain tumors
- Transient ischemic attacks (“mini” strokes that last for a short time and don’t cause permanent damage)
What Can Trigger Vertigo?
As stated, the common causes of vertigo are typically issues with inner ear balance or head injury.
However, lifestyle factors and diseases may also induce vertigo. For example, conditions that increase fluid pressure, inflammation, or even a viral ear infection can significantly contribute to vertigo. In addition, injuries to the neck, excess tension, and preexisting conditions can also exacerbate vertigo and increase the likelihood or severity of symptoms. Anything that causes your brain to believe you are in constant motion will leave you feeling dizzy.
Let’s break down the conditions that may cause vertigo:
Labyrinthitis is an acute viral infection that can lead to severe vertigo, nausea/vomiting, and immobility. It’s caused by the inflammation of the portion of the inner ear called the labyrinth. This inflammation causes a spinning sensation, hearing loss, and more. A different medical condition can lead to the infection of the nerves in the labyrinth and lead to the inflammation that causes the wrong signals to be sent to the brain.
Viruses that may lead to labyrinthitis include: herpes, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis, and more.
BENIGN PAROXYSMAL POSITIONAL VERTIGO (BPPV)
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) occurs when calcium crystals are dislodged into the inner ear, disrupting ear function and balance. This will sometimes cause a sensation of spinning, and it’s one of the most common causes of vertigo.
To break it down: benign means it’s not life-threatening; paroxysmal means that it usually comes quickly and without warning; positional means that the misfired signals to the brain can be caused by certain head movements or positions; and vertigo means the random dizziness.
When someone with BPPV moves their head into one of the positions that triggers their vertigo, they experience a specific set of eye movements called nystagmus. The dislodged crystals make people feel like the room is spinning and as a result, their eyes attempt to compensate for the perceived movement. If you believe you may have BPPV, your doctor can perform a set of tests where you move your head into different positions to look for nystagmus.
Ménière’s Disease is an imbalance of liquid in the inner ear that causes vertigo, dizziness, nausea, pressure in the ear, and hearing loss. Ménière’s Disease usually only affects one ear and on top of vertigo can cause hearing problems and a ringing sensation in the ear. A physical examination that may include various hearing or balance tests can be used to diagnose Ménière’s Disease.
Ménière’s Disease is a chronic illness, but with treatment the symptoms may disappear. Meniere’s Disease can be treated with medication, chiropractic, physical therapy, hearing aids, or surgery. People with Meniere’s Disease may also need to alter their diet to reduce fluids in their ears and consider other lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or treating allergies. Your chiropractor can work with you to develop the best plan of action to mitigate your Meniere’s Disease.
Vestibular Neuritis (VN) arises from the inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which gives signals to your brain about balance and proprioception. The vestibular nerve is located in the ear and when infected it may make people feel disoriented. Signs and symptoms of VN include vertigo, balance problems, nausea/vomiting, and trouble concentrating.
VN differs from Labyrinthitis because VN only affects the vestibular nerve while Labyrinthitis affects other nerves inside the ear. VN usually results from a viral infection such as measles, influenza, mononucleosis, rubella, mumps, shingles, or chicken pox.
Perilymph Fistula occurs when a membrane between your inner and middle ear tears. Since your middle ear is full of air and your inner ear is full of fluid, when the membrane ruptures the fluid flows into the middle ear. This causes vertigo, ringing in the ears, headaches, nausea, motion sickness, dizziness, loss of balance, and more.
Perilymph Fistula is usually caused by a brain injury, but can also be caused by extreme pressure changes. Ways to diagnose perilymph fistula include hearing tests, balance tests, CT scans, MRI scans, an electrocochleography test and a perilymph fistula test. The condition is usually treated with bedrest and only leads to surgery when absolutely necessary.
Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Syndrome (SSCDS)
A dehiscence or opening in the bone overlying the superior semicircular canal may lead to vestibular and auditory symptoms. People with SSCDS may experience episodes of vertigo and oscillopsia. This condition is extremely rare and is often caused by a developmental anomaly.
In some cases, there are no preexisting conditions that lead to vertigo, but the symptoms persist. Understanding these symptoms is the first step to getting treatment for vertigo and preventing it from occurring in the future.
What are the Ten Signs of Vertigo?
Vertigo symptoms arise when there are issues with the inner ear’s connection to the brain. Normally, you might recognise the first symptoms as:
- Balance Problems: The inability to stay upright for extended periods.
- Lightheadedness: A feeling of faintness or “passing out.”
- Motion Sickness: Dizziness and nausea accompanying vehicular travel.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Inability to keep down food.
- Tinnitus: A tinny ringing sound as background noise in one or both ears.
- Dizziness: Feeling weak or unsteady.
- Spinning Sensation: Feeling as if the world is rapidly moving around you.
- Migraines: Notably, intense migraine headaches that last several minutes.
- Nystagmus: Involuntary rapid eye movements.
- Hearing Loss: Normal sounds being muffled or difficult to process.
Typically, vertigo symptoms are not isolated. They happen at the same time, which can make for a very disconcerting experience. In these cases, we recommend seeking out an experienced health professional. It’s also important to keep in mind that vertigo isn’t a random issue but is usually a symptom of a greater medical issue.
Your chiropractor will diagnose your symptoms using unique testing methods that evaluate the body’s proprioception and ability to concentrate on environmental stimuli. If necessary, a doctor may need to perform an MRI on your brain to ensure everything looks good.
The Dix Hallpike Test
The Dix Hallpike Test is administered to specifically diagnose BPPV. The maneuver is usually performed by a health professional who watches for nystagmus.
How Do I Stop Vertigo?
Different ways to alleviate or stop vertigo include a variety of manoeuvres. However, make sure you consult a professional to understand what the best treatment for vertigo is in your case. Certain manoeuvres may help alleviate vertigo caused by a specific set of triggers. It’s important to ask your chiropractor for professional advice to determine the best path forward.
The following maneuvers can help alleviate the symptoms of vertigo:
The Epley Manoeuvre is a specific exercise to treat Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) and can be performed at home. This maneuver helps bring dislodged crystals into the inner canals to where they belong, restoring ear function. The Epley Manoeuvre is a series of movements you can perform at home to reduce dizziness and vertigo.
The Epley Manoeuvre consists of a pattern of specific head movements that consist of turning your head to the left or right slowly.
Also known as the “liberatory” maneuver, the Semont Manoeuvre involves the individual alternating from side to side to knock crystals out of the inner ear. This treatment for vertigo was designed to help patients with BPPV and is usually performed by a physical therapist or chiropractor. Your chiropractor will help you move your head in quick motions, and if dizziness or vertigo occurs then your chiropractor will hold your head in place until the dizziness subsides.
The Semont Manoeuvre is often as effective as the Epley even though the Epley is more commonly used.
The Foster maneuver, otherwise known as the half-somersault exercise, doesn’t require any gymnastic experience. It’s a kneeling exercise that keeps you close to the ground while treating the symptoms of vertigo. People who experience vertigo may find this method to help relieve spells of dizziness, and the exercise can be performed at home.
Specifically, the Brandt-Daroff maneuver does not work as well for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) as the Epley or Semont but it may help those with labyrinthitis or as an additional exercise. It involves alternating between an upright seated position and an oblique lying position to reset ear balance.
This set of exercises is often performed at home and consists of head turns while laying down and sitting up.
Treating Central Vertigo
Treatments for central vertigo include determining the source causing the vertigo. This may require tests or scans of the brain. Depending on the cause of a person’s vertigo, treatment may involve medicine and stress reduction.
Those looking to alleviate their vertigo may want to seek professional advice to figure out the best maneuver for them.
If your inner ear is the problem, then your doctor will need to establish which side it is coming from. To determine that, you will need to:
- Lie down with your head slightly over the end of the bed
- Turn your head to the left and return the position quickly
- Wait at least one minute
- If you are dizzy, then your left ear is affected
- If not, perform the test on the right side
- If you are dizzy, then your right ear is affected
It may take more than one round of exercises to relieve pain. You may need to wait at least fifteen minutes between sets and give yourself plenty of time to rest after.
Certain activities can cause problems that will make you feel dizzy. To relieve that, you can seek help from your chiropractor.
Your vertigo symptoms may warrant vestibular rehabilitation, an exercise-based program to improve balance and reduce feelings of dizziness. Patients who receive this kind of therapy are those whose triggers for vertigo may include Meniere’s syndrome, BPPV, neck-related dizziness and migraines. Other candidates are patients who have had a stroke or brain injury or who frequently fall.
This therapy works to recalibrate your vestibular system: the grouping of structures that make up your inner ear and control your motion and balance. Vestibular Rehabilitation is individualized to the patient and is often very successful.
How Long Can Vertigo Last?
Vertigo symptoms can last from a few seconds to multiple days in extreme conditions. In most cases, however, they only last a few minutes.
The symptoms are not simply dizziness. Instead, vertigo is an intense shifting in the environment that makes even standing difficult.
Different causes will lead to differences in the duration of symptoms. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and issues with dislodged crystals may only last a few minutes, whereas infections like labyrinthitis can last for hours without treatment.
Will Vertigo Go Away On Its Own?
In most cases, these symptoms will go away on their own, provided the issues are temporary. However, many common causes, such as inner ear infections or regularly dislodged crystals, can have lasting effects and require medical attention.
If you are concerned about the symptoms, here are some steps to take:
- Get a diagnosis from your chiropractor
- Stay safe and sit down when experiencing symptoms
- Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery
- Try at home self-care remedies
- Attend vestibular rehabilitation if you are not getting relief
Can Stress Cause Vertigo?
Stress does not directly cause vertigo. However, it can contribute to the symptoms. You might even notice that you’re getting vertigo more often during stressful situations. Stress can cause other medical issues that lead to vertigo, so it’s important to keep your stress levels down. People suffering from vertigo due to brain injury or migraines will be affected by stress.
Chiropractic Solutions to Vertigo
Vertigo is a debilitating condition that affects many people, making everyday tasks challenging. Because most causes of vertigo have to do with inner ear balance and function, restoring physical balance and proprioception is imperative to decreasing the chances of these symptoms recurring.
If you are experiencing symptoms of vertigo, seek out a health professional immediately.
Medical professionals are an excellent source of treatment for vertigo. However, unless they address the root cause of the problem, such as nerve irritation to the cranial nerves, the results can be short lived.
Therefore, the best option is to consult an experienced chiropractor, who will have the tools and knowledge to immediately provide relief while educating you on preventative measures for future episodes.
Vitality Chiropractic offers a physical examination with a chiropractic doctor when you experience dizziness and vertigo. By performing cutting-edge nerve tests and using upper neck treatment, patients experience fewer vertigo episodes and can resume their everyday lives.
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