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Vertigo: BPPV and Balance Disorders

Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2019/04/08

Synopsis: Information on vertigo and balance disorders usually associated with the inner ear balance mechanisms and Menieres disease. Rest is the immediate solution to vertigo. Exercises are a method of treating BPPV.

Main Document

Vertigo is a subtype of dizziness in which a patient inappropriately experiences the perception of motion (usually a spinning motion) due to dysfunction of the vestibular system. It is often associated with nausea and vomiting as well as a balance disorder, causing difficulties with standing or walking.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo - the sudden sensation that you're spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning. Causes of dizziness related to the ear are often characterized by vertigo (spinning) and nausea.

Vertigo is a serious disease as it increases the risk factor for some of the serious disorders such as strokes and tumors. Hence, the treatment of the vertigo is a necessity as it may lead to severe imbalance problems.

The 3 Different Symptoms of Vertigo:

Different Types of Vertigo:

The human balance system works with our visual and skeletal systems to maintain orientation or balance. Visual signals are sent to the human brain about the body's position in relation to its surroundings. These signals are processed by the brain, and compared to information from the vestibular, visual and the skeletal systems.

Balance Problems related to the ear or the brain include:

Brain Related Balance Conditions Include:

How to Treat Vertigo

Looking down from a spiral staircase - An artistic touch has been applied to this photo.
Looking down from a spiral staircase - An artistic touch has been applied to this photo.

There are various options for treating balance disorders. One option includes treatment for a disease or disorder that may be contributing to the balance problem, such as ear infection, stroke, or multiple sclerosis. Individual treatment will vary and will be based upon symptoms, medical history, general health, examination by a physician, and the results of medical tests. Most types of balance disorders will require balance training, prescribed by a physiotherapist.

The disease is usually treated symptomatically since it will help to reduce the severity of manifestations. The problem is in the inner ear, which includes dislocation of calcium crystals and infections such as Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo (BPPV) and can be treated with certain exercises such as physical maneuvers. However, brain damage or cardiac problems are more serious and hence have to be treated very carefully.

Particle repositioning maneuver is a specific treatment for vertigo caused by mis-positioning of calcium carbonate crystals. In the treatment the head has to be moved in such a manner to reposition the crystals and to give relief from the symptoms of imbalance.

Drugs for the treatment of vertigo can be administrated orally, through intravenous injections or patches in the skin. In case of any bacterial infections, antibiotics are preferred to stop the further complications. Meclizine hydrochloride, Diphenhydramine, Promethazine Hydrochloride, Diazepam and Scopolamine transdermal patch are some of the commonly used for the treatment of vertigo.

Exercises for BPPV

Exercises for vestibular rehabilitation are also used as remedy for vertigo in which the patient repeatedly undergoes the position change from lying state to sitting and vice versa. This is repeated until the patient has recovered completely and most often, the recurrence of the disease will not occur.

In serious cases, surgery in the inner ear to insert a plug is recommended to overcome the disorder. It has high success rate and only 5% of people have to repeat the treatment.

Rest is the immediate solution to vertigo, as soon as the symptoms are felt. Use of a cane is also sometime necessary to retain steadiness and balance. A patient with a tendency for vertigo must be extremely careful to adjust their movements at a slow pace.

Exercises are a method of treating BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo). Exercises include the; EpleyBrandt-Daroff exercisesSemont Maneuvers. These maneuvers are effective treatment in that they help speed up compensation by the brain. When these maneuvers work, they can relieve the symptoms of vertigo very quickly.

Balance Disorder Statistics

One recent large epidemiological study estimates that as many as 35% of adults aged 40 years or older in the United States, approximately 69 million Americans, have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction.

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