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Is Vertigo and Dizziness a Problem For You?

 

 

While you might think vertigo or occasional dizziness is just an inconvenience, it can be more serious than that.

In fact, vertigo is said to be the number one cause of broken bones and head injuries in those who are over fifty five.

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a condition where a person has the sensation of moving or of surrounding objects moving when they are not.

Often it feels like a spinning or swaying movement. This may be associated with nausea, vomiting, sweating or even difficulties walking.

It is typically worse when the head is moved.  

Vertigo is caused by your senses telling your brain that your body is off balance, even though it isn’t. Vertigo is a symptom of an underlying condition, not a diagnosis in itself. It can be a result of several different things.

Some types of vertigo will only happen once while others will continue to keep on occuring until the underlying condition is found. One of the most common types of vertigo is called BPPV (benign positional paroxysmal vertigo) which is caused when deposits build up in your inner ear - the same place which navigates your sense of balance.

Other underlying conditions that can cause vertigo include:

  • Vestibular neuritis
  • Strokes
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Meniere's disease. 

What can you do if you suffer from vertigo?

There are different protocols you can follow: 

The Epley manoeuver is a strategy that can be followed by those who suffer from vertigo and it can be carried out at home.

  1. Start by sitting upright on a flat surface, with a pillow behind you and with your legs outstretched.
  2. Turn your head 45 degrees to the right.
  3. With your head still titled, quickly recline with your head on the pillow. Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Slowly turn your head to the left, a full 90 degrees, without lifting your neck.
  5. Engage your whole body, turning it to the left so that you are completely on your left side.
  6. Slowly return to your original position, looking forward and sitting straight up.

Repeat as needed.

You may find it easier to have someone to help you by guiding your head according to the steps outlined above. It can be repeated three times in a row. Be aware that you may well feel dizzy during each movement.

The Semont-Toupet manoeuver is a similar set of movements that you can also perform at home to treat vertigo, but requiring less neck flexibility.

  1. Start by sitting upright on a flat surface, with a pillow behind you and with your legs outstretched.
  2. Lie down, turning to your right and look to your left side, looking upward.
  3. Quickly sit up and turn to your left side, keeping your head facing to your left. You will now be looking down toward the ground.
  4. Slowly return to your original position, looking forward and sitting straight up.

Repeat when necessary.

The Brandt-Daroff exercise is the third suggestion and perhaps the most simple. 

Just a word of warning not to carry it out unless you are in a safe place - and will not drive immediately afterwards - as it might lead to increased dizziness for a short time.

  1. Start by sitting on a flat surface, with your legs dangling as they would from a chair.
  2. Turn your head as far as you can to the left side, then lay your head and torso down on your right side. Your legs should not move. Stay here for at least 30 seconds.
  3. Sit up and turn your head back to the center position.
  4. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side by turning your head as far as you can to the right side, then laying down on your left side.

You can do this exercise in a set of 5 repetitions and then repeat it as often as 3 times a day, twice a week.

Stress management is a further suggestion as some of the conditions that can cause vertigo can be triggered by stress.  Here are some ideas:

  • Developing coping strategies to navigate stressful circumstances.
  • Practicing meditation and deep-breathing techniques. .
  • Being aware of what is causing you stress.
  • Taking up yoga or tai chi which are well known to reduce stress while increasing flexibility and balance. 
  • Ensuring good sleep habits as vertigo can be caused by sleep deprivation.
  • Sometimes vertigo is because of dehydration. Reduce your sodium intake and of course drink plenty of water.
  • What about the importance of Vitamin D?  Lacking sufficient Vitamin D is said to worsen symptoms.  Plenty of sunshine during the summer months to as much of your skin as possible and a good quality Vitamin D supplement the rest of the year will help to raise your levels.
  • Avoiding alcohol as drinking this can apparently change the composition of the fluid in your inner ear and also cause dehydration.

Should you seek medical attention?

It is important to remember that vertigo is a symptom of an underlying condition and if you keep on experiencing frequent bouts of vertigo, you should get to the bottom of finding out the cause.

Your doctor might be able to diagnose what is wrong or you may be referred to a specialist for further evaluation.