If you are considering whether your dizziness has reached the point where you should see a physician, we’re going to go over what a general practitioner may do to evaluate a patient according to guidelines provided on Medscape. Then we will consider a way that many patients are finding relief from various forms of dizziness, particularly the most common one – vertigo.
Taking the Patient History
The first thing your doctor should do is ask you to explain what you mean by dizzy. Are you feeling lightheaded? Is the room spinning? Are you off-balance? Understanding how your dizziness is expressing itself is an important part of the diagnostic process since people tend to use dizziness as a blanket symptom that covers many different problems.
The doctor is going to ask you about anxiety pretty early on. Dizziness can be a symptom of an anxiety disorder. So if you struggle with something like agoraphobia (fear of situations and places that can lead to embarrassment or panic such as being among large crowds and public areas in general), this is where your doctor’s mind may go first. Don’t be surprised if your illness is immediately classified as psychological rather than physiological (even though a person could very easily be dealing with both issues).
Head trauma will likely come up in conversation (although neck trauma should be mentioned as well). An extremely high percentage of vertigo cases begin following a head or neck injury, even a seemingly minor one such as a fender bender or a slip and fall accident.
Other symptoms a doctor will look for include anything that indicates you have recently had a cold or flu virus, hearing loss, other symptoms of vestibular conditions (ringing in the ears, for example), or anything that indicates it could be a neurological condition (migraines, multiple sclerosis, etc.).
Other conditions a doctor will want to rule out are diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both of which can cause dizziness. Patients who have had ear surgery in the past will be checked to see if the problem is a complication of the surgery. Medications taken are also an important part of patient history because many drugs cause dizziness as a common side effect, especially blood pressure meds and antianxiety drugs.
The Physical Examination and Testing
There are a number of tests a doctor may perform in the office or a lab in order to determine the function of a patient’s vestibular system and balance in general. Some of these tests include:
- Looking for nystagmus – When the problem is with the central nervous system, the eyes may move involuntarily in a vertical pattern. Vestibular issues are more likely to cause horizontal nystagmus. Seeing nystagmus signals a vertigo issue to a medical professional and may help with a diagnosis.
- Gait test – Watching a patient walk can help to determine if the person is leaning to one side.
- Head shake – A doctor may have you shake your head back and forth for 10 seconds (or may assist you to do so). This can trigger nystagmus allowing the doctor to make a better diagnosis.
- Rotational chair – This is performed in a lab setting. The room is darkened, and the chair a patient is seated in is rotated. Eye position is monitored to observe a response.
These are just a few tests, some of which serve a useful purpose and others which seem more like interrogation techniques than a medical examination. It is no wonder that many patients are frustrated with the care they receive for dizziness.
One major issue is that the problem is considered non-life-threatening. This designation is a misnomer because while dizziness isn’t the cause of death, it can certainly result in a fall that can take a person’s life. It makes sense then that more and more people are seeking natural relief from recurrent vertigo and other forms of dizziness.
Natural Dizziness Relief
Proper care for dizziness depends on the underlying cause. For example, a doctor would take a very different approach to treating a patient with dizziness due to MS as opposed to someone who is having a heart attack or stroke. On the other hand, many times the underlying condition is never discovered. However, it is important to remember that many cases of dizziness, and vertigo in particular, begin following head or neck injuries.
With that in mind, we would like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic. This safe and gentle form of chiropractic involves using diagnostic imaging to get precise measurements of the atlas (the top bone in the spine located at the base of the skull). Then low force adjustments (no twisting or popping) are used to provide long-lasting corrections.
The atlas is located where the brainstem meets the spinal cord. As a result, it can have a major effect on central nervous system function, even if it is a mere fraction of a millimeter out of place. It is also in proximity to the ears where it can affect the Eustachian tubes and proper drainage, thereby leading to an excess of fluid in the ears. So both vestibular and central vertigo can relate back to the neck.
If you are suffering from vertigo, especially if you have a history of head or neck trauma, contact an upper cervical chiropractor today. This niche in the chiropractic field may be just what you need to get dizziness under control. To learn more, schedule a consultation today.
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