“I’m so dizzy, my head is spinning…”
Those make for fun song lyrics (thanks Tommy Roe!) but unless you’re a kid twirling around on a swivel chair or twisting the swing around at the park and making the world fly past you in a blur, dizziness is not actually a very fun experience.
Unfortunately, dizziness and vertigo are not uncommon and can often lead to falls. For the elderly, falls are particularly problematic and can lead to hospital, and subsequently nursing home admissions. But vertigo and dizziness don’t only affect older people and can be problematic for people of any age. It can make simple, every day tasks like driving, rolling over in your sleep and even just looking up, incredibly challenging and make sufferers feel as though the world is moving, or they are, when in fact everything is still. Bleugh!
Vertigo is the term used to describe the feeling of spinning when you aren’t actually moving. It Occurs when there is an issue with the vestibular system, which is the system responsible for balance. This system is made up of structures in the inner ear, the brain stem, the cerebellum and the vestibular nerve. It is important as it allows you to move while at the same time keeping your eyes focused wherever you choose to look. The vestibular system is what allows you to take in the world around you, move through your space, and know you relationship to the things around you, all without falling down. Pretty important stuff!
Dizziness can be a symptom of vertigo but can also be used to describe other sensations than spinning. People often use the term ‘dizzy’ to explain feelings of light-headedness when they feel like they might faint (also called presyncope), or unsteadiness and a feeling of imbalance when standing or walking.
Some causes of vertigo and dizziness include:
- Breathing to rapidly
- Meniere’s disease
- Neck injury or imbalance
- Acoustic neuroma
The most common cause of vertigo is benign positional paroxysmal vertigo, or BPPV. This is caused by tiny crystals inside your ear being dislodged from their usual position which then brings on the sensation of spinning. Treatment involves physiotherapy exercises called Brandt-Daroff exercises (read more about that here), making some changes to how you sleep and get up from bed, learning to manage or avoid certain positions that trigger a dizzy spell, and medication. Some of the root causes of dizziness and vertigo are more medically significant/urgent than others. If your dizziness is accompanied by weakness in your limbs, difficulty speaking, double vision or hearing loss, please seek medical advice from your doctor or go to the hospital.
Make sure to mention if you have been experiencing dizziness or vertigo when you attend your next physiotherapy appointment as there are things our team here at Hoppers Physio can do to help! Please call today on (03) 9749 5110 for an appointment with a member of our professional and friendly team.