Feel like the room is spinning around you? This may be a sign that you are experiencing vertigo, a common disorder characterized by dizziness.
Vertigo is typically a result of damage or disease affecting the inner ear. The most common form of vertigo is Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV manifests as sudden, short lived episodes of vertigo elicited by specific head movements. This is caused when crystals or debris break off and become dislodged in the semicircular canals in the inner ear.
The semicircular canals in the inner ear provide our brain with information on where we are in time and space. In other words, they allow us to know which was is up, down and side to side. When particles accumulate in the canals, they disrupt our ability to detect head position. This leads to the sensation of the room spinning around you.
Often times, vertigo is accompanied by ringing in the ears. This irritating noise is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus can occur when microscopic hairs in the inner ear become damaged, sending impulses to the brain that are perceived as noise. Tinnitus can also be caused by temporomandibular joint dysfunction and turbulence in the carotid artery or jugular vein.
Who is most at risk for developing vertigo?
Risk factors include:
• Increased age (>50)
• Head trauma
• Neurological conditions
Vertigo can be very scary and debilitating, especially when you have no idea what is going on. Fortunately, there are some treatment methods that may work for you!
• Education and reassurance!
• Particle repositioning maneuvers (if it is BBPV)
• Diet and lifestyle modifications
Other forms of vertigo such as Meniere’s disease can be treated with vestibular rehabilitation, hearing aids, positive pressure therapy, or medications used to reduce fluid retention and nausea. Unlike BPPV, Meniere’s disease is caused by abnormal amounts of fluid in the inner ear. Fluid build-up can be cause by anatomical variation, infection and genetic predisposition
All this said, the exact root cause of Meniere’s disease is not entirely understood. This has made diagnosis and treatment protocol inconsistent among health care professionals. Some doctors have tried conservative approaches such as anti-inflammatory supplementation and manual therapy. Other practitioners will recommend invasive surgery if symptoms are severe and persistent.
If you or someone you know is suffering from vertigo and tinnitus, please advise them to seek medical attention. A medical doctor or chiropractor can help determine the cause of your dizziness and assist you in getting the best care possible.
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Ménière’s disease. Vestibular Disorders Association. http://vestibular.org/menieres-disease. Accessed Nov. 1, 2018.