Five important things to know about vertigo

Everything you ever wanted to know about vertigo, but were too dizzy to ask.

Woman With Vertigo

Do you suffer from frequent dizzy spells? Are you increasingly unsteady on your feet? You may have vertigo, a false sensation of movement that affects more than 40 per cent of people over the age of 40. Vertigo is rarely permanent and the more you know about it, the better you can get your balance back. Here is everything you need to know about this frustrating inner ear condition.

1. There are two types of vertigo
Vertigo is caused by either an inner problem (around 60 per cent of cases) or a brain problem. Peripheral vertigo relates to inner ear problems and can also involve the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brain stem. Central vertigo relates to the brain problem and is usually in the brain stem or the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that controls balance.

2. Some people are more prone to vertigo than others
The connection between the inner ear and the brain gets less efficient as we get older. This means that you become more prone to vertigo as you age. Age isn’t the only factor, though. Some people are more visually dependant than others, meaning they might not feel the motion they are able to see. People that suffer from motion sickness fall into this category, and are more likely to suffer from vertigo as a result.

3. Migraines can cause vertigo
As if a pounding headache that will not let up is not bad enough, it can also bring about sustained spells of vertigo. Vestibular migraines can last anywhere from a few minutes up to a few hours in some cases and may involve light and noise sensitivity. Around one in 10 people who suffer from migraines also suffer from bouts of vertigo as one of their symptoms.

4. Physical therapy can treat some vertigo
The most common form of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is usually triggered by specific changes in the position of your head. This might occur when you tip your head up or down, when you lie down, or when you turn over or sit up in bed. Our inner-ear organs contain crystals (called otoconia) that move when we do. Sometimes these crystals break down and dislodge from the inner ear and float in the fluid of the inner ear, messing with the ear’s rotation senses when you move. If this is the cause of your vertigo, your doctor or a physiotherapist may be able to help. By manoeuvring and positioning the head it is possible to move particles from one part of the fluid in the inner ear to an open area where they are more easily absorbed and do not cause any trouble.

5. There is no way to prevent vertigo
Vertigo can strike without warning and for no apparent reason. There are a few activities that increase your likelihood of suffering from vertigo, including yoga and pilates, or any activity where your head may be extended for a period of time. You can also try steering clear of jerking head motions that can knock crystals loose in your inner ear, but even then, you cannot stop every instinctive head movement. There are medications available that will help with some cases of vertigo or otherwise you may be able to engage some physical therapy as mentioned above. If your vertigo strikes when you are getting out of bed or standing from a sitting position, it is best to wait a few seconds before you attempt walking to try and let your system regain its balance.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    26th May 2017
    I suffered for years from BPPV and tried everything until the doctor casually mentioned a local physiotherapist who was experienced in the manoeuvre mentioned above. I was very sceptical. Two visits and I've been vertigo free for more than 2 years. Like magic and I would highly recommend but find a physio who does this regularly and has lots of practice
    26th May 2017
    Describing Vertigo as dizziness is just plain wrong. It is so much more than that, when it strikes me my whole world makes a 90 degree shift. It only occurs (for me) when lying down or standing (still). The most simple solution I have found is a few days of vitamin B..... no hard and fast rules methinks.
    invisible sock
    26th May 2017
    A sore throat can also be a symptom.
    26th May 2017
    I also was given an 'exercise' to do but when I have it bad but that exercise was worse than the Vertigo. lol Take Blackmore's Ginkgo Brahmi if I have a bout of it now which is very seldom.
    26th May 2017
    I have had BPPV on and off randomly for many years although i never knew what it was until more recently. It generally lasts for several hours and I'm prety much incapacitated until it passes. I usually lie propped on the bed keeping still until it settles. It's totally unpredictable and usually triggered by turning my head either sitting or lying. I wish I'd known about the physio manoeuvre earler in life.
    22nd Jun 2017
    If you suffer from BPPV it can be cured in Melbourne and in Sydney.
    My wife was partially helped by a physio but not competely.
    After being treated in PA in Sydney on a OMNIAX machine after 3 treatments she was completely cured.
    There are only 53 of these machines in the world as far as I know and there is one in Sydney as mentioned and there is another one somewhere in Melbourne.
    Anyone suffering fro BPPV should ask their GP to put them in contact with a dizzy clinic in either city.

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