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Tips for Caring for Someone with Vertigo

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Vertigo is a condition that is characterized by the sensation that you are spinning or that the world around you is spinning. This feeling can last for a few moments, a few hours, or even a few days. In addition to dizziness, people can experience headaches, abnormal jerking eye movements, sweating, ringing in the ears of hearing loss, nausea or vomiting, double vision, or a racing heartbeat. Vertigo is often caused by an inner ear infection or diseases of the ear such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s disease, and vestibular neuritis.

Treatment for vertigo depends on what is causing it. If someone experiences an episode of vertigo once, it should not be cause for alarm, but if a person experiences repeated episodes of vertigo along with hearing loss, it’s recommended that they see an ear, nose, and throat specialist to get appropriate treatment.

The following is a brief guide on how to care for someone suffering from vertigo.

BPPV

This is the most common cause of vertigo. BPPV occurs when canaliths, or tiny calcium particles, clump together in the canals of the inner ear. This can cause brief dizziness that lasts for about 20 seconds to one minute. It is often triggered by head trauma or by moving the head into certain positions. It can appear for no known reason and it may be connected to age.

Vertigo caused by BPPV can be treated with physical therapy in which patients learn a series of exercises known as canalith repositioning procedure. These are slow movements for positioning the head to shift particles in the inner ear. (See the section on Epley Maneuver below.)

Meniere’s disease

If a person has Meniere’s disease, doctors often prescribe a low-sodium diet and a diuretic to reduce fluid pressure in the inner ear.

Vestibular neuritis  

Vestibular neuritis, or labyrinthitis, is an inner ear problem that is usually related to infection (often a viral infection). The infection causes inflammation in the inner ear around nerves that are key to helping the body maintain balance.

Vestibular neuritis can be treated through vestibular rehabilitation, which is a type of physical therapy designed to strengthen the vestibular system. It helps train a person’s other senses to compensate for vertigo.

Medication

Some vertigo sufferers can be treated with prescription medications including calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, and beta blockers. If vertigo is caused by an inflammation or infection, antibiotics or steroids may reduce swelling and cure the infection. Also, often strong antihistamines or motion sickness medications are prescribed to help with the spinning sensation, but they usually come with side effects.

Epley Maneuver

If the vertigo comes from the left ear and side, the Epley Maneuver can be performed. Have the person sit on the edge of the bed and turn their head 45 degrees to the left. Place a pillow under them so when they lie down the pillow rests between their shoulders. Have them quickly lie down, face up, with their head on the bed and still at the 45-degree angle, and with the pillow under their shoulders. Wait for the vertigo to stop, which should be about 30 seconds. They should then turn their head halfway (90 degrees) to the right without raising it. Wait 30 seconds again. Then, they should lie on their right side (so that they’re looking at the floor) and wait 30 seconds. Lastly, have them slowly sit up but stay on the bed for a few minutes.

If the person’s vertigo comes from the right ear, these instructions should be reversed (sit on the bed, turn your head 45 degrees to the right, and so on). These movements should be done three times before going to bed each night until they have gone 24 hours without dizziness.

Other maneuvers include the Semont Maneuver and Foster Maneuver.

 

It’s very important to understand what is causing vertigo before choosing an appropriate treatment. Symptoms for BPPV can be eased with the Epley, Semont, and Foster maneuvers, and treatment can consist of physical therapy, a change in diet and diuretics, vestibular rehabilitation, and medication. When vertigo is caused by a tumor or brain or neck injury, treating the cause of these problems may help reduce vertigo symptoms. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. When you or a loved one experiences vertigo, first see a medical professional to determine the cause and get professional medical advice. However, there are also additional options for symptom relief beyond medications like natural supplements and exercise that can be extremely helpful. It is possible to have a happy and normal life, if you take care of whatever is causing your vertigo.

 

                                                           

 

 

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