Vertigo has been defined as the feeling that you or the things in the environment around you are moving when they are not. It often has a rotational component of false movement. Some associate vertigo with a fear of heights, which is called acrophobia. This has to do with a popular movie from long ago. But vertigo has nothing to do with how high up you are. Rather, it is a disorder of the inner ear or central nervous system that can be due to a number of different underlying factors. Some things that may cause vertigo to occur include:
- Swelling of the inner ear
- Misplaced crystals in the inner ear
- Improper fluid balance
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Diseases of the ear such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck trauma
- Brain injuries
- Skin growth behind the eardrum (cholesteatoma)
- Pressure changes in the middle ear
- Colds and allergies
- Abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear
- Exposure to certain drugs or chemicals that damage the hairs of the ear
- An aneurysm
- A defective heart valve
- Certain medications
- A heart attack
- Nervous system disorders
- Stress and tension
Vertigo is among the most common reason for adults and children to visit their family physician or emergency department. Dizziness and vertigo become more common after the age of 40. Vertigo can be temporary or long-term. The symptoms of vertigo include:
- Balance issues
- Tinnitus – ringing in the ears
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
- Nausea and vomiting
- A headache
Tips and Tricks to Reduce Vertigo
Here are 8 things you can try at home to help reduce the occurrence of vertigo.
- Check your blood pressure: If you have low blood pressure, your body may be struggling to deliver enough blood to the brain. This causes you to feel dizzy when you stand up quickly. However, if you have high blood pressure, you may have the same reaction for the opposite reason. Your heart is working extra hard to move the blood. If your pressure is low, avoid blood thinners. With either condition, strive to live a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes exercise.
- Practice fall prevention exercises: This will not stop your vertigo but will help you manage one of the resulting complications – falling. It is a good idea to visit a physiotherapist to help you learn how to develop the muscles in your legs, ankles, and feet so you can build reflexive strength. This helps you to be able to steady yourself when you begin to fall.
- Balancing exercises: You may be surprised to learn that it is possible to train yourself to be balanced. Along with the previously mentioned reflexive exercises, a number of other exercises can be learned to help you keep your balance and increase the link between the body and the brain.
- Clean your ears: It is possible the improper signals being sent by your ears to your brain can be the result of blockages in the ear. A heavily blocked ear can lead to vertigo. Do not use Q-tips as these can push the wax further in the ear and make matters much worse. Instead, get drops that you can put in the ear to soften and break up the wax. This can also be the reason for ear infections.
- Lie down: Just taking a break and lying down for awhile can be enough to reset your balance issues. This gives the fluid in the ear time to settle down and helps ensure that the proper amounts of blood and oxygen can reach the brain and help you de-stress. Lying down also helps you connect with being firmly grounded and establish yourself in your environment. When you get up, take your time and do it slowly so as to keep your balance in line.
- Relax: Stress is one reason vertigo can get out of hand. This is because it may lead to rapid breathing and hyperoxia (too much oxygen). Stress also heightens all our senses and makes us hyperaware. This is often the reason people faint when they have a panic attack. By using controlled breathing and self-help talk, many are able to calm down and relax.
- Eat some sweets: The brain needs oxygen and blood to function at its best. The brain also needs stabilized sugar levels. If you have skipped meals, your blood sugar may become low and begin to impact your brain function. A banana or another source of healthy carbs can help with vertigo.
- Caffeine: Caffeine actually helps to increase oxygen to the brain and is very helpful in caring for vertigo. Caffeine clears brain-fog and helps you feel more alert and awake. However, caution should be exercised. Those with high blood pressure should avoid it, and it may cause anxiety in some people, making the problem worse.
Getting Help for Vertigo from a Professional
Upper cervical chiropractors have seen great success in caring for vertigo patients. If one of the top bones of the neck, the C1 or C2 vertebra, are misaligned, they may be putting undue pressure on the brainstem causing it to send improper signals to the brain. If the brainstem tells the brain the body is moving when it is not, vertigo may be the end result.
Upper cervical chiropractors have been specially trained to realign these bones without the need to use force. Rather than popping or cracking the bones of the spine, we use a gentle method that aligns the bones more naturally, leading to a longer lasting adjustment and less stress on the body. This has proven to be effective in helping people see an improvement in various symptoms, including vertigo.
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