“Vertigo is more than just feeling dizzy”.
By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.
What Is Vertigo?
It is a symptom, rather than a condition itself in which you or the environment around you is moving or spinning.This feeling may be barely noticeable, or it may be so severe that you find it difficult to keep your balance and do everyday tasks.
Attacks of vertigo can develop suddenly and last for a few seconds, or they may last much longer. If you have severe vertigo, your symptoms may be constant and last for several days, making normal life very difficult (1).
Causes Of Vertigo
The most common causes of vertigo are inner ear infections or diseases of the ear such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuritis, and Meniere’s disease. Less common causes of vertigo can include head or brain injuries or migraines
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) can occur when calcium builds up in canals of the inner ear, causing brief dizziness that lasts from 20 seconds to one minute. It is usually brought on by trauma to the head or by moving the head in certain positions.
Vestibular Neuritis is brought on by an inner ear infection that causes inflammation around the nerves that help the body sense balance. It results in a severe bout of vertigo that can last a day or more and sometimes includes hearing loss. “A person is dizzy for a day or two and then off balance,” Hansen explained. The Cleveland Clinic says 95 percent of patients make a full recovery and never have it again.
Meniere’s Disease is caused by the buildup of fluid and pressure in the inner ear and can cause dizziness along with ringing in the ears and hearing loss (2).
Perilymphatic Fistula (breach between the inner ear and middle ear) may be caused by trauma from a direct blow, or from activities such as scuba diving and heavy weight bearing or excessive straining with bowel movements (3,4). Sneezing or movements that place the affected ear downward also can provoke vertigo in patients with perilymphatic fistulas (5).
Are Vertigo And Dizziness The same?
Dizziness is an altered sense of spatial orientation or a distortion of where we are within a space and like your balance just feels off.
Vertigo, on the other hand, is truly the sensation of self-movement or the movement of your surroundings – it’s a spinning sensation. Symptoms associated with vertigo may include:
- Loss of balance – which can make it difficult to stand or walk
- Feeling sick or being sick
- Loss of hearing
Treatment And Cure
NASA had conducted a Non-pharmacological Treatment study in which they observed that depending on the nature of the vertigo, dizziness or equilibrium disorder, a series of sessions including patients with peripheral, central, and psychogenic forms of dizziness was been conducted to develop a unique fixation reflex using biofeedback that is provided by the computer to record eye and head movements. Results of the clinical work demonstrated_ that patients had the capacity to fixate on and hold their gaze on both real and imagined targets, thus suppressing vertigo, dizziness and equilibrium disturbances allowing them to live a normal everyday life with suppressed symptoms (6).
Treatment may include medication, physiotherapy, and psychotherapy; a few limited cases may require surgical treatment.
Some cases of vertigo improve over time, without treatment. However, some people have repeated episodes for many months, or even years, such as those with Ménière’s disease.
Depending on what’s causing your vertigo, there may be things you can do yourself to help relieve your symptoms.
- During a vertigo attack, lying still in a quiet darkened room can help ease symptoms especially if you are already beginning to feel nauseous.
- Avoid stressful situations like anxiety which is known to worsen Vertigo attacks.
- Avoid bending down, or extending neck. If you want to sleep, sleep with your head slightly raised on two or even more pillows.
- When you wake up in the mornings, do so slowly and sit up first and relax before standing up completely.
- Especially if you have to do activities, move your head carefully and slowly.
Foods To Control Vertigo
- Fluids with high sugar or salt content.
- Caffeine intake.
- Excess salt intake.
- Nicotine intake/Smoking.
- Alcohol intake.
- Processed food, Bakery products & meat.
- Fried foods is a complete NO.
- Pickles and fermented foods.
Incorporate foods that are anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. They reduce the swelling of the tissue in the inner ear, repair the cells and ensure healthy cell regeneration.
- Ginkgo biloba, Ginger, Almonds, Apple cider vinegar are helpful.
- Stay hydrated.
- Food rich in Vitamin B & C, Zinc,Potassium, Magnesium.
- Essential oils listed below will help calm your mind and may suppress the symptoms eventually: Peppermint, Ginger, Lavender, Lemon,etc to be used with carrier oils.
Foods listed here may provide relief to some people. Everybody reacts differently to different foods (7,8).
Exercises For Vertigo
Follow these steps if you have left-ear BPPV. Do it in the opposite direction if you have right-ear BPPV:
- Sit upright in bed. Place your legs straight ahead and put a pillow behind you.
- Turn your head 45 degrees to the left.
- Lie back quickly until your shoulders are on the pillow. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Turn your head 90 degrees to the right without lifting it up. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Turn your body and head another 90 degrees to the right. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Sit upright on the right edge of the bed.
- Do the home Epley maneuver three times a day. Repeat every day until you don’t experience symptoms for 24 hours.
- The Foster maneuver, sometimes called the half somersault.
- Follow these directions if you have left ear BPPV. If you have right ear BPPV, do these steps on the right side:
- Kneel down and place your hands on the floor. Tilt your head up and back. Wait until any dizziness passes.
- Place your forehead of the floor, tucking your chin toward your knees.
- Turn your head 45 degrees to face your left elbow. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Keeping your head 45 degrees, raise your head until it’s level with your back and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Raise your head to the fully upright position (9).