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Vertigo

Vertigo differs from dizziness, although they are often confused, in that a person suffering from vertigo has the feeling that either they or their surroundings are moving. This article will focus on understanding vertigo and treatment considerations.

Causes of Vertigo

Vertigo can be triggered by either problems within the inner ear or the brain. The most common form of vertigo is referred to by a very long name: Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), which can simply be translated into vertigo triggered by sudden head movements or moving the head in a certain direction. Put another way, if you move your head quickly or tilt it just right, it can trigger this kind of vertigo.

The second cause of vertigo arises due to inflammation within the inner ear (labyrinthitis). This form of vertigo can be triggered by either a viral or bacterial infection of the inner ear.

An additional cause of vertigo is called Meniere’s disease; it is a very specific series of symptoms that occur in a triad that include vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and some level of hearing loss.

Vertigo can also occur if there is an insufficient supply of blood to the brain, or if there has been a stroke particularly at the base of the skull (called cerebellar hemorrhage). Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease or neck injury arising from pinched nerves or blood vessels, can also contribute to similar vertigo symptoms.

Lastly, acoustic neuroma, a tumor of the nerve that transmits sound from the ear, serves as a potential cause. It is almost always associated with ringing in the ear and hearing loss only on one side.

Additional Symptoms Associated with Vertigo

When an individual is suffering from true vertigo, they experience disorientation or a sense of motion that is not truly present. Also they typically will have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Abnormal eye movements

Symptoms can last from merely a few minutes to several hours. There are many triggers to vertigo including higher salt intake, exercise, eating, sleeping in the wrong position, trauma and more.

Special Warning Signs

Whenever your body presents with a new or persistent symptom you should share them with your medical provider. If you have one of these symptoms then you need to immediately get care.

  • Double vision or any change in vision
  • Headache/migraine
  • Weakness or trembling
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Abnormal eye movements of any sort
  • Decreased level of consciousness and/or nerve system functioning
  • Lack of coordination or weakness of the arms and/or legs

Vertigo Treatment

Epley maneuver is a type of head and neck movement often recommended and performed in a doctor or physical therapist’s office, but it may also be taught to a patient by their healthcare provider to do at home. Upon mastering this technique it can often empower patients with a tool to offset this potentially debilitating condition.

Vitamin D supplementation has been used for patients with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, when their blood levels are determined to be suboptimal.

Botanical remedies have been frequently used to help control symptoms. These include ginger root, ginkgo biloba, vinpocetine and turmeric.

Food allergies can serve as triggers and aggravations for patients with vertigo.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have been reported to help with symptom management as well.

Things to Avoid

If you have vertigo of any sort, you must limit caffeine, alcohol, salt and tobacco. It is essential to drink plenty of clear fluids and stay well-hydrated. Spending lots of time in front of the computer and jaw and neck tension can all be triggers as well. Some patients also wear a night guard to prevent clenching of their teeth.

In Conclusion

The most important first step when dealing with vertigo is to write down any and all potential triggers that are setting off alarm bells in your body. It may be your neck, inner ears, diet, Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (or TMJ, which are problems with the jaw and the muscles that control your face) or even your brain. You must play detective to take charge of your health. Sure you can use the commonly prescribed drugs, yet it is still vitally important to understand what your body is telling you. When making your list of potential triggers, ask friends and loved ones what patterns they have seen regarding your vertigo flareups as well.

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Health Tips On the Go!

Improve Posture

  • 1.Avoid slouching. Be aware of your posture as you walk, sit, and drive, keep shoulders squared and head pulled back and up.

  • 2.Imagine a thread pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling. Visualization can help improve your sense of position.

  • 3.If your job requires you to sit for long periods, take frequent breaks to stand, stretch and shake it out.

  • 4.Maintain a strong core to help support proper posture. Add core-training exercises to your daily routine.

  • 5.A firm mattress and ergonomic pillow help achieve proper back support while you sleep, so you'll stand straighter in the a.m.

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