Dizziness and vertigo affect over 2 million people each year. Very often these conditions are fleeting and people try to ‘deal with it’ or hope it goes away on its own. In reality, there are many causes for dizziness that range from tumors and infections to a positional type called BPPV. The good news is that the positional type is among the most common cause. Even though this BPPV or ‘functional dizziness’ is not life threatening, it can interfere with your daily life and eventually become disabling if not treated appropriately.
People who have experienced vertigo know just how scary it can be. When it happens and the world starts to move and your vision gets altered, you initially think you are having a stroke or a panic attack. It is very scary. Commonly, doctors prescribe a medication called Meclizine to ‘calm it down.’ Although it may give you some temporary relief, this medication does absolutely nothing about the cause of your problem and it will most likely come back.
What is Dizziness & Vertigo?
Your brain always wants to know two things; where you are in space and are you moving. These two messages are created by a group of sensors and nerves called the Vestibular System which is in your inner ear, just next to your brainstem. Every time your head moves, signals are sent to your brain to keep it updated about head position. Vision is a huge sensory experience for us and your eyes are the sensors for visual information in your brain. Being able to look at something you choose is an important part of being Human. Because your eyes are locked in the bones in your skull, it is important to have a system set up to allow you to be able to stare at an object, even if your head is moving. For example, put on an interesting show on TV and while watching it, move your head side to side and up and down. You can still see the picture right? That’s because your vestibular or balance system is directly connected to your eyes so when your head moves, your eyes move in an equal and opposite direction and speed! Pretty amazing…except when the systems of eye movements and head movements aren’t as well connected as they should be. When your brain gets different signals from either one inner ear vs the other OR your inner ear system VS your eyes ability to stay on a target, it gets what we call a ‘sensory mismatch’ and you experience dizziness!
When these connections are impaired, you may experience symptoms of a balance disorder. These symptoms can include:
More common symptoms like nausea, vomiting, faintness, anxiety and panic can also occur.
Many times, these problems can be due to a trauma to the head or neck like a concussion or a whiplash. Most patients come to me after they have seen their doctor, a neurologist and an ENT, all of whom were unable to help. This is because doctors are not trained in functional neurological conditions.
We can accurately evaluate the problem and create brain-based rehab solutions to treat the cause of the problem and not just the symptoms.