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How do I know I have Vertigo?

Do you feel like you are spinning or the world around you is spinning?

When you turn your head in a certain direction, do you feel dizzy?

Do you feel dizzy getting out of bed or rolling over in bed?

Well, if you answered yes to one of the questions above, you may have vertigo and this blog is perfect for you to find out what you can do!

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo or positional vertigo is defined as a spinning feeling by a change in head position often towards a specific side. Vertigo is a symptom rather than a disease which is commonly provoked by problems in the inner ear.  Some symptoms you may experience include nausea, vomiting, balance issues, headaches, and blurred vision. Vertigo can affect all ages; however, it is more prominent for individuals above the age of 65 and can dramatically affect their balance leading to falls.

What causes Vertigo?

The main causes of vertigo can be placed in 3 categories all related to the vestibular (balance) system.

  1. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BBPV) is the most common cause of vertigo. Within the inner ear lay 3 small fluid-filled tubes that regulate balance and sense head position. These canals are sensitive to gravity and changes in head position. Within the inner ear canals, otoconia (small crystals of calcium carbonate) can be dislodged or displaced and cause frequent temporary episodes of vertigo like symptoms.
  2. Central lesions in the brain can cause an array of symptoms and sometimes be life threatening. Specific lesions can cause ischemic/haemorrhagic strokes, grow, and divide cells leading to tumors or other chronic autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
  3. Other causes relate to disorders such as Meniere’s disease, inflammation or irritation of the inner ear causing neuritis or labyrinthitis and psychological triggers like mood, anxiety, and psychological disorders.
Vertigo diagram
Vertigo diagram 2

Do I have Vertigo?

To determine whether you have vertigo, a thorough physiotherapy assessment must be completed. The assessment involves a detailed personal screening and physical examination to determine if and which type you may have. During the assessment, specific tests will be done which may influence a patient’s symptoms. The most common type of test to diagnose BPPV is called the Dix-Hallpike manoeuvre. This involves positioning the body and head to influence the vestibular system and can possibly lead to aggravation of symptoms.

vertigo 3
vertigo 4

How can a Physiotherapist help?

If a vertigo diagnosis is made, a physiotherapist will sit down with you to devise a treatment plan. This treatment plan may involve:

  • Repositioning manoeuvres to allow the dislodged crystals to return to their normal location
  • Soft/deep tissue massage to release tight or overworked muscles due to the vertigo
  • Joint mobilizations to help reduce pressure, improve movement, and reduce headaches
  • Education regarding what your diagnosis is, how long it will take to get better and what you can do at home to help yourself
  • A home exercise program to help reduce muscular/joint tightness, improve balance, improve strength/posture, and promote sensory input via vestibular exercises

What should I do next?

If you have or are still currently suffering from some of these symptoms, enquire with your local physiotherapist to get the help you need.

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