By Darcy Meesen, Physiotherapist.
Vertigo is that sickly sensation of the room spinning around you or a sense of dizziness that usually comes on with certain movements. It can leave you feeling quite nauseous and debilitated when it strikes. Sometimes your eyes can move rapidly without your control, this is a common correlated symptom known as nystagmus.
Vertigo is actually a symptom of an underlying issue, rather than a condition itself. It is a disturbance within the balance system that sits within your inner ear. This system, known as the vestibular system, works kind of like a 3-dimensional spirit level, sending messages to your brain about where your head is positioned within space. When these structures are disturbed, the messages get muddled up, leaving the brain confused; giving off that ‘just got off a roller coaster’ sensation.
There are actually a number of different conditions that lead to vertigo. The most common cause of vertigo, called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), is a result of crystalised structures breaking loose within the fluid that fills your “spirit level”; this creates those false messages that confuse the brain (That sounds whacky, I know! The body is amazingly complex right!). This can sometimes follow trauma to the head, but can also occur without an obvious cause. The symptoms for this can come on very acutely and intensely, though often respond exceptionally well to a treatment known as the Epley manoeuvre (completed by your physio and some GPs). Medication can also be used to help manage/ dull the symptoms.
Less commonly, vertigo can also be caused by a viral infection in your inner ear (vestibular neuronitis and labyrinthitis), a head trauma, a migraine or with a brain injury. Sometimes you can have hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in your ears) alongside episodes of vertigo- this is often an indication of another condition called Meniere’s disease. Most of these conditions are managed medically through your GP though can often benefit from physio guided vestibular retraining.
If you would like to know more, chat to your GP about your vertigo or feel free to get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to work out the best plan for you or that someone you know who is affected by vertigo. Darcy is now also working at BSMC so you can call 03 5251 5724 to make an appointment to assist your vertigo today!