One of the most common complaints heard by doctors is, “I feel dizzy”—and that makes sense. According to statistics, quite a few people will experience dizziness at one point or another. How long-lasting or intense the dizziness you experience is can be indicators of potential risks to your health.
There are essentially two types of balance issues people tend to face:
significant dizzy spells or balance disorientation, lasting as long as a few hours
a constant state of feeling unsteady on one’s feet
Dizziness can be alarming—no one likes to feel out of control—but there have been significant advances in treating balance disorders in recent times, so the outlook for dealing with dizziness is good.
What’s going on?
Balance is the result of collaboration among the body, the eyes, the inner ear and the brain; together, they establish where you are in relation to your surroundings.
Your brain uses the information it receives to calculate what movements will keep your body where it needs to be at any given time, on any given surface. It’s a complex process, and if it breaks down at all, unsteadiness or lack of coordination can be the result.
A particularly strong area of focus for equilibrium researchers is the effect of aging on both the process mentioned above and the speed with which the central nervous system can understand and react to the brain’s balance commands.
For instance, a patient might say that he or she can see an upcoming stair or curb, but can’t react quickly enough to keep from losing sure footing. The good news here is that a clear diagnosis and targeted therapy can get many older balance-issue patients, quite literally, solidly back on their feet.
Facts About Dizziness and Balance
- Dizziness is the number one complaint doctor’s get from patients over 70; dizziness help is sought by more than 9 million people each year.
- Half of all accidental deaths among the elderly are tied to balance-related falls. Such falls also cause more than 300,000 annual hip fractures among individuals over age 65.
- A sure diagnosis is key. The symptoms of various inner-ear problems are very much the same and can only be distinguished by medical professionals. Such symptoms have been mistaken for other conditions, as well. Inner-ear disorders such as Ménière’s Disease or benign positional vertigo can be misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis or clinical depression because of symptom similarities.
- Wholly treatable balance disorders in children, when not recognized and properly diagnosed, can be mistaken for learning disabilities, dyslexia or psychological disturbance.
- Dizziness is often the result of whiplash and trauma to the head.
- Balance-altering inner-ear problems can also be the result of ear infections.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some home exercises for vertigo?
The Brandt-Daroff exercises and the Epley maneuver are two home methods for treating benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the most common disorder of the inner ear’s vestibular system. These two maneuvers succeed in 95 percent of cases, but might be more arduous than office treatments.
Brandt-Daroff Exercises: Three sessions per day for two weeks. Each maneuver should be performed five times per session. (1) Begin by sitting upright on your bed. (2) Lay down on your right side with your knees bent and your legs pulled up halfway to your chest. Look upward at a 45 degree angle (as if someone is standing about six feet in front of you while you look at their head); stay in this side laying position for 30 seconds or until dizziness subsides. (3) Move back to a sitting position for 30 seconds. (4) Perform step 2 on the opposite side.
Epley Maneuver: Repeat every night for two weeks. (1) Sit upright on your bed with your legs stretched out in front you of, twisting your head to the left for about one minute. (2) Lay on your back and keep your head facing left and slightly upward, similar to the head position of the previous exercise. Perform for 30 seconds. (3) Turn the head in the same position to the right, and hold for 30 seconds. (4) Roll to your right side and hold for 30 seconds. (5) Return to the upright position for one minute, and repeat the cycle three times. Mirror your movements to treat the right ear.
How long does vertigo last?
A vertigo attack may last only a few seconds, or a few hours. This may last only a matter of weeks, or it may be an ongoing problem. People with persistent, ongoing vertigo may be in danger of harming themselves or others, making treatment a necessity.
How do I get rid of the dizziness?
Typically, symptoms resolve on their own, but treatment can be provided either in home or at a practice that treats balance issues. Bow River Hearing can help with your vertigo and other balance and dizziness disorders.
Why do I get dizzy when I stand up?
Blood pressure drops excessively when you sit or stand, causing dizziness. This dizziness can resolve rapidly within a few seconds if the person lies down. Some people do faint, however, and symptoms tend to be more common and worse after exercise, consuming alcohol, or eating a heavy meal. Low blood flow to the brain can cause dizziness and other symptoms, and is not necessarily a result of vertigo. Because reasons for dizziness vary depending upon specific medical conditions, individuals who experience excessive dizziness when shifting body positions are encouraged to contact our practice for a full consultation.
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