Have you been experiencing vertigo? Does it make you feel as if you were going to fall? Vertigo makes you feel as if you or your environment is moving, even though there really is no movement. It is a little like the childhood game of spinning and spinning, then stopping, but feeling as if your surroundings still spin. You may feel off-balance, or experience sensations of spinning, tilting to one side, or falling. Some people lose their balance and fall, or feel nauseated and vomit. People often use the general term dizziness to describe a variety of symptoms, including lightheadedness, imbalance, disorientation, and weakness, as well as vertigo. Vertigo is not a medical diagnosis, it is a description of a sensation. It can, however, be unnerving. People who are doing tasks such as flying, operating dangerous equipment, or even driving may be incapacitated by the symptoms.
Although vertigo can occur in people of any age, it is more common in older adults. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of four older people fall each year. Injuries resulting from a fall are the sixth leading cause of death in the elderly. Although older people often experience balance problems, loss of balance is not an inevitable result of aging.
There are many causes of vertigo. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is generally triggered by changes in the position of your head. When you tip your head up or down, lie down, or sit up in bed, you may suddenly feel that you are spinning. These episodes, varying from mild to intense dizziness, are usually brief, sometimes less than a minute. The episodes can come and go. Although disturbing, BPPVis usually not serious, except when it leads to falls. BPPV can often be treated and eliminated in as little as 1-2 therapy sessions!
Deliberately spinning and suddenly stopping can cause temporary vertigo. But when vertigo happens for no apparent reason, it could be a problem with the vestibular system of the inner ear. The vestibular system is a complex system of organs and structures in the body. These act as the body’s balance system, telling you which way is down and sensing the position of your head. Maintaining balance depends on the information provided by the vestibular system, vision, and other senses. If the systems are not working well or working together properly, you may experience vertigo.
People who are older or ill may have a lower capacity for exercise and activity, which leads to deconditioning and general weakness. There are two common situations that result in deconditioning. Older adults, even those who are healthy, often develop a sedentary lifestyle, which can cause a gradual decline in physical fitness. Individuals with an acute illness, requiring bed rest, may undergo a rapid decline in physical fitness. In these situations, individuals sometimes experience episodes of vertigo.
Regardless of your age or circumstances, it is important to determine the cause of your vertigo and seek treatment. If you have recurring or severe vertigo, you should seek medical treatment as it could be a sign of a more serious, underlying health problem. Allow one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to determine what is the cause of your vertigo and devise a treatment plan tailored specifically to your cause. This may include therapeutic exercise, visual tracking, neuro re-education activities, Epley’s Maneuver, and more. When you become proficient with these skills in the clinic many of them can be transitioned for you to do at home. Your treatment plan will help you develop better balance, reduce your risk (and fear) of falling, as well as gain strength and mobility.
Your body’s ability to maintain its balance is a remarkable thing. Most of us take our balance for granted unless we lose it. If you are experiencing vertigo, do not hesitate to seek help. If you want to know the cause of your dizziness and vertigo, as well as prevent falls and possible severe injury, please call our office at 570-208-2787 and ask about our FREE 30 Minute Balance and Dizziness Screening!!!
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