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Does Vertigo Have Your Head Spinning?

Posted on 10/15/21 by Michael in Peter B. Lewis Aquatic Center

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is a false perception of spinning that can make it feel like your surroundings are moving when they are not. This causes dizziness which can put you at an increased risk of falling. One cause of vertigo is due to an abnormal reaction in your vestibular system, or your inner ear. Your vestibular system provides your body with sensory information about where you are in space, which helps you to maintain your balance. When small crystals within the canals of the vestibular system, known as otoconia, are displaced, it can cause the wrong feedback to be sent to your brain. When these changes in the crystals of the vestibular system occur, it can cause a condition known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), characterized by brief and intense periods of dizziness with positional changes.

Does Vertigo Have Your Head Spinning?

If you have experienced vertigo, you’re not alone! Almost 15-20% of adults are affected by vertigo at some point in their life and the prevalence increases with age. Vertigo can have a major effect on your balance and vision, which can disrupt your ability to perform daily activities. Studies have shown that 86% of individuals with BPPV seek medical consultation, take sick leave, or have an interruption in daily activities.

Eran Shiloh, Physical Therapist and vestibular specialist at the Peter B. Lewis Aquatic and Therapy Center, has over twelve years of experience in treating patients with vestibular dysfunction, vertigo and balance problems. As a specialist, Eran notes that many people with vertigo go undiagnosed or do not receive treatment. He went on to say, “It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional that specializes in vertigo as studies show only 8% of individuals with Vertigo receive effective treatment”.

How to know if you or someone you know has vertigo?

These questions can be helpful in identifying dizziness or vertigo:

  • Do you get dizzy when lying down or turning over in bed?
  • Does your dizziness only last for a short period of time?

If you answered yes to either question, than you may have symptoms of Vertigo. Experiencing dizziness when laying down or turning in bed increases the likelihood of BPPV, but continuous dizziness decreases the likelihood. Though, it’s not always that simple. In older individuals, reported symptoms of vertigo may be more subtle or vague. Individuals older than 65 years old tend to report symptoms of unsteadiness or falling.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

During an evaluation, a physical therapist will determine if the cause of your vertigo is BPPV and if so, which canal is affected. Specialized diagnostic goggles, known as Frenzel goggles, are used to help make this determination by capturing a client’s eye movements during specific positioning maneuvers. Once the canal involved is identified, a physical therapist can use a variety of repositioning maneuvers to help remove the displaced crystals from that vestibular canal.

Eran Shiloh says that consulting with a physical therapist can be an effective way to treat your symptoms. He went on to say, “The evaluation and treatment of vertigo is very successful! Vertigo can be abolished in 2 to 3 sessions. And if other impairments are present as well such as balance, muscle weakness, or fear of falling additional treatment may be necessary.”

Does Vertigo Have Your Head Spinning?

Pictured: Frenzel goggle demonstration by vestibular specialist and physical therapist, Eran Shiloh.

Visit our website to learn more about our physical therapy services or contact 216.595.7345 to learn how we can help you feel better and maximize your potential.

Article Contributors: Eran Shiloh, PT and Michael Groesch, PT, DPT, Board-Certified Clinical Specialists in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy

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