If you’ve ever felt like you’ve suddenly found yourself on a tilt-a-whirl ride when all you’ve done is roll over in bed, you may be experiencing a vertigo attack. Different from a dizzy spell, vertigo is the particular feeling of spinning or rotational motion. Depending on what’s causing the vertigo episode – it could be something as simple as dehydration – this unsettling sensation can last for minutes, hours, or even days. Along with the false feeling of movement, people also commonly experience nausea, headaches, vomiting, and vision changes.
As a NUCCA Doctor based in Texas, we stay current on vertigo research and best practices for those who seek out our care to try and address the underlying cause of their condition. Hopefully, our comprehensive vertigo guide will answer some questions you have about the health of your or a loved one.
What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is the illusion of movement. It is a sensation that is only experienced by the patient, making it difficult to describe or evaluate. More specifically, it is the false sensation of spinning or rotating that can affect a person in two ways:
- It may feel as if the environment around you is whirling or spinning
- You may feel as if you are spinning when you’re still
Vertigo is not a diagnosis on its own. Rather, it is a symptom of other health conditions, so it is important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the origin of your vertigo episodes.
What are the Symptoms of Vertigo and other Vestibular Disorders?
While each vertigo episode may have characteristics that make it unique, the most common symptoms of vertigo include:
- A spinning or whirling sensation
- Nausea or vomiting
- The feeling of swaying or tilting over to one side
- Feeling unbalanced, unsteady
- Falling, sometimes called drop attacks when associated with severe vertigo
- Abnormal eye movements called nystagmus
- Rapid heart rate
- Double vision
What are the Common Causes of Vertigo?
There are many causes of vertigo, ranging from simple to complex. However, the majority of vertigo cases are related to the following conditions:
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, usually abbreviated as BPPV, is a very common cause of brief but intense vertigo episodes. A BPPV episode is generally experienced with a quick change in head position, such as rolling over in bed or bending down to tie a shoe. The cause is misplaced calcium crystals called otoconia that become dislodged and migrate into an area of the inner ear where they disturb normal fluid movement and balance signals sent over the nerves to the brain.
From the common cold to an infection that inflames the vestibular nerve, a virus can cause vertigo that is consistent rather than episodic (comes and goes). Two common conditions related to viral infection are vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis.
Caused by excess fluid buildup in the inner ear, Meniere’s disease is characterized by the feeling of fullness/pressure in the ear, sudden vertigo attacks, ringing in the ear, and fluctuating hearing loss.
Migraine sufferers can be vulnerable to experiencing vertigo as well as other types of dizziness. Vertigo episodes can happen in conjunction with a migraine or may occur even when a severe headache isn’t present.
A previous history of head injury sometimes relates to the later development of vertigo-causing conditions, as well as being a common symptom of post-concussion syndrome. This may be related to changes that happen at the craniocervical junction – where the head and neck meet.
What Does the Word ‘Vestibular’ Mean and How Does it Relate to Vertigo?
When researching vertigo, you will likely come across the term ‘vestibular disorder.’ Vestibular refers to the system in our body that is responsible for coordinating our sense of balance. The vestibular system is usually looked at in two separate parts:
- The central vestibular system, composed of your brain and brainstem
- The peripheral vestibular system, made up of your inner ear and the nerve pathways to the brainstem
Any vertigo condition will relate to an issue within the vestibular system, which gathers sensory input from your eyes, muscles, joints, and inner ear. This information travels over nerve pathways to be received and processed by the brainstem. A vestibular problem will cause vertigo by interfering with this normal communication loop.
Are There Options for Natural Vertigo Relief?
If you’re one of the growing segments of people who want to start with a more natural, conservative approach to healthcare, you’ll be glad to know that there are non-invasive ways to begin to address your vertigo symptoms:
Canalith repositioning maneuvers
For BPPV sufferers, some exercises take your head through a prescribed series of head movements to reposition the loose calcium crystals that are provoking vertigo attacks. The most commonly used one is called the Epley Maneuver, and it is often performed first by a healthcare provider who may also give you home instructions.
Vertigo sufferers who experience pressure and fullness in the ear may benefit from reducing their sodium intake and/or taking a diuretic (water pill). This may help to normalize fluid balance levels throughout the body and lessen symptoms.
Some vertigo sufferers have found relief by bringing their vitamin D levels up, using gingko biloba supplements, and trying certain essential oils.
Upper cervical chiropractic care
Because so many vertigo cases stem back to old head injuries (even those considered mild), having your head and neck alignment checked by an upper cervical chiropractor may help to reduce underlying dysfunction in the vestibular system.
Professional Upper Cervical Care in Cedar Park, TX
Symmetry Health Chiropractic Center is an upper cervical chiropractic practice that focuses on the precise analysis and correction of the area most likely to be injured and later contribute to the development of vertigo. NUCCA is an upper cervical technique that is exacting and gentle. Our vertigo patients have responded very well to our unique approach to care, often returning to the activities that they had to set on the back burner due to their condition. To learn more about how we may be able to help you, browse our website, where you can also schedule your initial consultation.