Vertigo is a form of dizziness, but it is different than lightheadedness. A better description is a false sensation that you or the environment around you is spinning or moving. Many times, the cause behind vertigo is a problem in the brain or inner ear, such as one of the following:
- Inflammation of the inner ear due to a viral or bacterial infection
- Meniere’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Head and neck trauma
- Decreased blood flow to the base of the brain
Here are several of the more common symptoms characteristic of vertigo:
- A sensation or disorientation or motion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abnormal eye movements
- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus — a ringing sensation in the ears
- Visual disturbances
- Difficulty speaking
- Problems walking
- Decreased consciousness
Reasons for Vertigo
The following conditions have vertigo as one of their main symptoms:
- BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) – Usually this condition is caused by a dislodging of crystals traveling out of place in the inner ear. The crystals are normally responsible for reacting to gravity when moving the head in a certain position.
- Labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis – This happens when there is a bacterial or viral infection causing inflammation of the inner ear or the vestibular nerve.
- Meniere’s disease – The main symptoms associated with this rare condition are vertigo, hearing loss, and tinnitus, along with a feeling of fullness in the ear that’s being affected.
- Acoustic neuroma – A tumor of the nerve tissue of the inner ear results in the development of vertigo.
- Decreased blood flow to the brain – If a blood clot or a blockage in a blood vessel in the back of the brain occurs, it could result in a stroke.
- Multiple sclerosis
- Head and neck injuries
- Complications from diabetes
- Hormonal changes
- Anxiety and panic attacks
Ways to Relieve Vertigo Symptoms
Here is a list of remedies that may be of help when looking to ease vertigo symptoms.
- The Epley maneuver – This is usually a good option for BPPV because doing a series of specific head movements can help to realign the crystals of the inner ear. Here are the instructions:
- Sit on the edge of your bed and turn your head 45 degrees toward the problem ear
- Lie down quickly on a pillow turning the head to face upward
- Wait for vertigo to subside. This will take about 30 seconds
- Turn your head 90 degrees and wait another 30 seconds
- Turn so you’re looking at the floor, then slowly sit up.
For further directions refer to YouTube videos demonstrating the maneuver.
- Head rotations – You can reset the information coming from the ear in order to help correct improper signals. This can be done by moving your head in a rotating motion slowly in each direction. This can reset your brain back to “zero,” similar to the way you restart your computer when it gives you problems.
- Finding the horizon line – Sometimes the ears are not the culprits, but it’s the eyes that are sending false signals, like in carsick or seasick situations. This can happen when the ears are accurately detecting movement, but the eyes are focused on something stationary. For example, reading a book while being in car that is driving up windy roads can cause carsickness. For these situations, locate the horizon line and focus on it for several minutes.
- Grasp onto something – Finding something firm to hold onto can help your brain obtain accurate information to help with spatial awareness confusion. Basically, you will be grounding the brain, which is both comforting and can also help you to avoid falling.
- Get a neck massage – Cervical vertigo is usually the result of an injury or swelling of the muscles and tissue surrounding the neck. When this happens, the nerves on one side of the neck can become stressed. These same nerves travel to the brain, and the pressure from the surrounding swelling can create false messages telling your brain the head is tilted more to one side than it truly is. A massage of the neck and some stress relief, even trying a heating pad to the neck, can all help ease vertigo symptoms in these cases.
- Get a head massage – Increasing the blood flow going to the brain by getting a head massage, will not only improve your health but also help with vertigo. This will help alleviate stress levels, which is a well-known trigger of vertigo attacks.
- Practice proper breathing – Being mindful of your breathing by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for a few minutes is an excellent de-stressing tool. Using the belly breathing technique is an important part of maximizing this exercise. Here’s how to do it:
- First, relax the abdominal muscles allowing the stomach to protrude and the diaphragm to drop into the abdominal cavity.
- At the same time, breathe slowly and count to 3 on each inhalation and exhalation.
This can help you get proper flow of blood to the brain and may help with vertigo.
How Can Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Help Ease Vertigo?
One more cause of vertigo is a bone misalignment at the uppermost part of the spine. The C1 and C2 vertebrae, which cradle the weight of the skull at the very top of the neck, are uniquely designed to allow the wide range of mobility we enjoy every day. This also means that they are more vulnerable to misaligning and causing issues for the rest of the body. Within the atlas and axis is the brainstem, protectively shielded by the vertebrae. If they misalign, this can place pressure on the brainstem, leading to interrupted and improper communication between brain and body. For example, if the brainstem were to send the message to the brain that the body is moving when it is not, vertigo would be the result.
Upper cervical chiropractors are trained in a thorough knowledge of the relationship between the bones of the neck and the brainstem. We have a unique approach to treating these types of misalignments using gentle and precise adjustments to encourage the bones back into place naturally. There’s no need for forceful popping or cracking of the neck to get results. Once the correction has taken place, the body begins to heal from the damage caused by the misalignment. Tissue and muscle can heal, and proper signals between the brain and body can be restored. This can oftentimes mean an improvement in or an elimination of vertigo.
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