Has anything like this ever happened to you before?…
Out of the blue, you feel like you’re spinning. A sensation of everything around you whirling. Feeling off-balance and nauseated? Moving your head or changing positions seems to make it worse? Dizziness lasting a few seconds to a few days?
These may be vertigo symptoms.
We often hear the word “vertigo” as a condition, but it is actually just a symptom rather than a condition itself. Vertigo is the sensation that you, or everything around you, is spinning. These sensations can range from being barely noticeable to severe, making it nearly impossible to maintain our daily lives. Other symptoms may include:
- Loss of balance / unsteadiness
- Ringing in the ears/hearing loss
What causes vertigo?
There are a few conditions that can create peripheral vertigo symptoms.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo.
In your ear you can find otolith particles, these are calcium carbonate particles and crystals (canaliths) that clump up in your inner ear canals and help inform your brain about your head’s position related to gravity. These particles within our inner ear fluid touch sensory hair cells inside the semicircular canals during movement and stimulate the vestibular nerve. This is the nerve that sends information to the brain about our body’s position!
BBPV is caused when there is a displacement of these tiny particles – dislodged particles can move into the semicircular canals and cause them to become sensitive to head position changes they would not normally respond to. Irritation to the small hair cells occurs within the semicircular canals and causes inflammation. This irritation and presence of dislodged particles means that movement of endolymph fluid continues stimulating small hair cells even after head movement has stopped! This is what causes that dizzy, spinning feeling… you feel like you’re still moving even though you’re now stationary.
BBPV is often found in older adults, and affects women more often than men. Causes of BBPV are often unknown.
Labyrinthitis / Vestibular Neuritis
Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection that causes the labyrinth to become inflamed, affecting your hearing and balance.
The labyrinth is the innermost part of your ear, containing two parts – the cochlea and the vestibular system. The cochlea relays sound to the brain, while the vestibular system is a set of fluid-filled canals that contribute to balance. Labyrinthitis can be caused by viral or bacterial infections.
Symptoms may include:
- Feeling pressure inside your ear
- Changes in vision
- Mild headaches
- Ringing/humming (tinnitus)
- Feeling sick/nauseous
Many people diagnosed with labyrinthitis only experience balance / dizziness symptoms without hearing loss. This is termed “vestibular neuritis“ or “vestibular neuronitis”.
Other Causes of Vertigo Symptoms:
- Vascular Compromise
- Age related degeneration
- Post Head Trauma / Concussion
- Migraine Related Dizziness
- Other Vestibular diagnoses provided by your doctor
Q: How can I treat it?
A: Vestibular Rehabilitation.
Peripheral vestibular dysfunction (in ear-dysfunction resulting in vertigo symptoms) has been shown to respond well to progressive balance retraining, specific stretching, and strengthening techniques. The vestibular rehabilitation approach is used to decrease balance impairments, gaze disturbances and symptoms of dizziness.
We can design a vestibular home rehab program for you to continue and complete at home, on top of receiving treatment and retraining at our clinic. No referral necessary.
If you have any questions about vestibular rehabilitation, contact us.
Disclaimer: this article nor the provided information replaces care and advice provided by healthcare and medical professionals, and is meant only as a guide and informational tool.