Is Your World Spinning? Causes and Symptoms of Vertigo and How to Treat It
Vertigo, according to University of Illinois-Chicago, School of Medicine, “refers to a sense of spinning dizziness. It is a symptom of a range of conditions. It can happen when there is a problem with the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerve pathway.
Vertigo is a common reason people seek medical evaluations, and the symptoms, ranging from a spinning sensation to lightheadedness, tinnitus, headache, and nausea, can be temporary or long-term. Anyone can experience vertigo; however, it is most common in people ages 45 and older.
Let’s take a look at how vertigo is classified for determining the best treatments. Aside from sudden trauma or other impact injuries, vertigo can typically be categorized into four different classifications:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
- Ménière's disease
- Vestibular neuritis
Dizziness, it should be noted, has also been associated with the symptoms of some diseases, mental disorders, and side effects of certain medications. The causes of vertigo that are listed above are directly related to the vestibular system, which includes parts of the inner ear and brain responsible for processing the sensory information involved in controlling balance and eye movement.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
The Vestibular Disorders Association identifies Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (or BPPV) as the most common cause of vertigo, and here is how it breaks down:
BENIGN -- Not life-threatening
PAROXYSMAL -- Comes in sudden, brief spells
POSITIONAL -- Triggered by certain head positions or movements
VERTIGO -- False sense of rotational movement
BPPV is a mechanical problem of the inner ear that occurs when calcium carbonate crystals from one part of the ear become dislodged and accumulate in one or all of the three fluid-filled canals of the ear where they should not be present. The accumulation interferes with the fluid movements that the canals utilize for head motion. This disorder causes the inner ear to send the wrong signals to the brain.
Typically, the fluid in the three semicircular canals of the ears does not move or give in to gravity. But, when calcium carbonate crystals from another part of the ear enter into the fluid-filled canals, as with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), it causes the fluid to move in the canals as the crystals move. That movement stimulates the nerve endings in the canals to send a message to the brain that the head is moving, even if it is not. The result is an imbalance between what the other ear is sensing and seeing, and the mismatched information tells the brain that the body is spinning, and so the brain works to fix the imbalance, but it actually ends up causing an imbalance by overcompensating.
Thankfully for sufferers BPPV, the feeling of vertigo typically lasts less than a minute at a time, though the feeling of imbalance and disequilibrium persists between vertigo sensations.
How is BPPV treated?
If you think the dizziness you might be experiencing is the result of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, it is important that you first seek the advice of a medical professional before trying any treatments or exercises on your own.
Once you are cleared, there are some exercises and treatments you can do to help dislodge the calcium carbonate crystals that have accumulated in your inner ear canals. The crystals respond to gravity, so give this exercise a try to dislodge the crystals:
Home Epley Maneuver
-Start sitting on a bed and turn your head 45° to the right. Place a pillow behind you so that on lying back it will be under your shoulders.
-Lie back quickly with shoulders on the pillow and head reclined onto the bed. Wait for 30 seconds.
-Turn your head 90° to the left (without raising it) and wait again for 30 seconds.
-Turn your body and head another 90° to the left and wait for another 30 seconds.
-Sit up on the left side.
Try this exercise three times a day until the vertigo stops.
In addition, the Foster Maneuver, also known as the Half Somersault Maneuver, was created by Dr. Carol Foster for the treatment of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. Give it a try: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQR6b7CAiqk
Since I perform the upper cervical chiropractic technique I have helped many people with vertigo including Ménière's disease. Upper Cervical Doctors restore normal joint bio mechanics which then allows the central nervous system to function more normally.
Ménière's disease as a chronic and inner ear disorder that causes dizziness, tinnitus, and vertigo. The condition can occur suddenly and last for years, or in some cases attacks only occur intermittently, sometimes with years between symptoms.
In some cases, the dizzying symptoms of Ménière's disease can impede daily activities such as driving or operating machinery, and in some rare instances, permanent hearing loss is possible.
For the sensors of the inner ear to work properly, the fluid in the inner ear canals has to remain balanced at the right pressure, volume, and chemical composition. An imbalance of the fluid that results in Ménière's is often treated with medication and sometimes surgery, but there are also plenty of natural treatments to help manage the symptoms besides upper cervical care.
Managing the symptoms of Ménière's disease
One of the first things a doctor might recommend to someone suffering from Ménière's disease is to limit foods and beverages that affect the fluid levels in the body to help balance the pressure and amount of fluid in the inner ear. It may be advised that salt intake be limited, as well as caffeine and alcohol, as these are substances that can either cause water retention or dehydration, which in turn can disrupt the body’s fluid balance.
For the best results, it is best to limit or cut out both alcohol and caffeine, and as for salt, the American Heart Association recommendations no more than 2300 mgs of sodium (salt) per day. (This is about 1-1/4 teaspoons in place of the nearly 3 teaspoons most people eat on a daily basis.)
This chart of equivalents is helpful to reference when reading packaged food labels:
-1-gram equals 1000 mgs
-1/4 teaspoon salt = 500 mgs sodium
-1/2 teaspoon salt = 1000 mgs sodium
-3/4 teaspoon salt = 1500 mgs sodium
-1 teaspoon salt = 2000 mgs sodium
-1 teaspoon baking soda = 1000 mgs sodium
Be conscious of your salt intake
Salt makes everything taste better, right?
Yes, it is used to enhance flavors, but there are ways to get those mouthwatering flavors without all the added sodium. One of the first things to do is to try to cut out or at least limit the amount of pre-packaged or processed meals in your diet, as these are often loaded with salt. If you do eat pre-packaged meals, learn how to detect ingredients high in sodium (such as soy sauce, monosodium glutamate, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein).
Other ways to increase flavor without the added salt is to try using fresh herbs and spices to enhance flavors, as well as a squeeze of lemon to finish a meal. Also consider replacing onion and garlic salts for powders that do not contain added salt.
According to American Hearing Research Foundation, “Vestibular neuritis causes dizziness due to a viral infection of the vestibular nerve. The vestibular nerve carries information from the inner ear about head movement. When one of the two vestibular nerves is infected, there is an imbalance between the two sides, and vertigo appears.”
Those suffering from vestibular neuritis might experience any or all of the following:
As vestibular neuritis is caused by a virus, for most, the symptoms are acute and constant for a few days with full recovery anywhere from a week or two after symptoms first occur.
Fortunately, recurrence is very rare, and there are natural remedies to help with the inflammation.
Turmeric, the bright yellow spice often associated with Asian cooking, is a great treatment for Vestibular Neuritis because of its naturally occurring anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric comes in capsule form or it can be consumed as a warm, nutritious drink. Start fighting inflammation with this recipe for Turmeric Milk: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/golden-milk-turmeric-tea
Eliminating foods from your diet that are known to cause inflammation can be helpful when experiencing the acute effects of Vestibular Neuritis and to further promote healing as the virus begins to abate. One way to do this is to try an elimination diet to remove inflammatory foods or
foods that are known to cause allergies or food sensitivities.
I recommend cutting the following foods for 4-6 weeks:
-Eggs, in some cases
-Packaged, processed or fast foods
Labyrinthitis is diagnosed as inflammation of the labyrinth, a part of the inner ear made up of fluid-filled channels that control both balance and hearing. When movement is detected, the fluid channels move, which in turn tells the brain the direction and speed of the movement so that it can help maintain equilibrium. Whenever inflammation in this area is present, the inflamed ear will send the brain different signals than the unaffected ear. This causes a miscommunication that can lead to dizziness. In severe cases, it can also affect hearing.
However, in most cases, balance and hearing return to normal once the infection or inflammation subsides, though some people report experiencing residual or intermittent dizziness for several years after an infection is detected and treated. And although it is uncommon, labyrinthitis can cause permanent hearing loss or imbalance.
Thankfully, there are some natural treatments to help with the inflammation and symptoms. The symptoms of labyrinthitis are often treated naturally with the following herbs:
- Echinacea has potent antiviral properties which can help heal the virus causing labyrinthitis.
- Ginger can help reduce symptoms of nausea caused by dizziness.
- Ginkgo can reduce dizziness.
- Olive leaf has antiviral properties that can help heal a labyrinthitis infection.
- Slippery elm can help with stomach queasiness and nausea.
There are also some exercises that can help reduce the symptoms of vertigo that accompanies labyrinthitis. Let’s look at one of them.
The Brandt-Daroff exercise can help to reduce the symptoms of vertigo that often attend labyrinthitis by getting the body used to the confusing signals the infected ear
is sending to the brain. While this does not help with the inflammation, it can help reduce the symptoms.
To do the Brandt-Daroff exercise:
- Start in an upright, seated position.
- Move into the lying position on one side with your nose pointed up at about a 45-
- Remain in this position for about 30 seconds (or until the vertigo subsides, whichever is longer). Then move back to the seated position.
- Repeat on the other side.
For the best results, Michigan Medicine recommends repeating the exercise a few times twice a day.
Know when to seek immediate help
Dizziness and vertigo can be symptoms of a more serious medical issue, such as heart attack or stroke. The Mayo Clinic advises that anyone experiencing the following seek immediate medical attention:
- A new, different or severe headache
- Falling or trouble walking
- Chest pain or an irregular heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Facial weakness or numbness
- A sudden change in speech, vision, or hearing
- A head injury
- A high fever
- A very stiff neck
- Ongoing vomiting
- Leg or arm weakness
- Loss of consciousness
What if symptoms worsen?
If you have been struggling with vertigo symptoms for months or even years you may have wondered, “What if my vertigo symptoms got worse?”
This is a legitimate question and something that you should consider. Typically, if you don't address the underlying cause of any problem it will get worse. If there is a problem with your engine in your car and you don't fix it eventually it will get worse. If there is a strange noise from your car and you turn up the radio to cover it up it doesn't make it go away. Many times, this is what happens when we have an issue in our body. Rather than looking for the underlying cause we just cover it up with medication. This is just like turning up the radio to cover up that engine noise.
Eventually, it will get worse ... but what if it got better?
What if you were able to find the underlying cause of the problem and eliminate the cause so that your body could truly heal. You wouldn't have to just turn up the radio and cover-up issue but you could actually fix the engine. If you're interested in seeing if we can help you, don’t let time pass you by; just email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want more healthy tips you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/drcorinneweaver. Like and comment on my channel so I will know what tips and topics you want to know about. I am forming a community of people who want to take action in their own health with my social media channels and I want to know what health topics you want to hear.
I hope my column speaks to you and you can wake up each morning with a purpose. What I do every day is a calling, and I give God the glory for allowing His gifts to work through me. I do believe in miracles, because I get to see them every day! For more information you can go to www.nomoremedsmovement.com and sign up for my closed Facebook group #NoMoreMeds-Community for more healthy tips.
Dr. Corinne Weaver
Dr. Corinne Weaver is a compassionate upper cervical chiropractor, educator, motivational speaker, mother of three, and internationally bestselling author. In 2004, she founded the Upper Cervical Wellness Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Over the last 13 years, she has helped thousands of clients restore their brain to-body function. When she was 10 years old, she lost her own health as the result of a bike accident that led to having asthma and allergy issues that she thought she would always have to endure. Then, after her first upper cervical adjustment at age 21, her health began to improve thanks to upper cervical care and natural herbal remedies. This enabled her to create a drug-free wellness lifestyle for herself and her family, and she also enthusiastically discovered her calling to help children heal naturally.
Dr. Weaver was recently named one of Charlotte Magazine's "Top Doctors" in 2016 and is now a number-one internationally bestselling author to two books: Learning How to Breathe and No More Meds.
Upper Cervical Wellness Center is known for finding the root cause of health concerns through lifestyle changes, diagnostic testing, nutraceutical supplementation, and correction of subluxation (as opposed to just medicating the symptoms). The practice offers cutting-edge technological care at its state-of-the-art facility, including laser-aligned upper cervical X-rays, bioimpedance analysis (measures body composition), digital thermography (locates thermal abnormalities characterized by skin inflammation), and complete nutritional blood analysis, which is focused on disease prevention.