The power of your ears is pretty amazing. They not only make hearing possible, they also help to keep you balanced. These are two big jobs for such a small body part. And when things are running smoothly, you hardly give your inner earmuch thought, but even a slight change can impact this delicate system.
Whether it’s standing up too quickly or an exhausting workout, the result is the same—a case of the spins. So, what exactly causes these feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness?
Lightheadedness vs. Dizziness:
Oftentimes, lightheadedness is described as a feeling of unsteadiness or weakness. If you’re feeling faint, the likely culprits are dehydration, low blood pressure, low blood sugar or medication side effects.
On the other hand, dizziness usually causes feelings of imbalance or false movement and/or spinning. This is often the result of an inner-ear condition, including vertigo, Ménière's Disease or labyrinthitis.
As an extremely common medical condition, it is estimated that 40% of Americans will experience vertigo at some point. Of that 40%, women are more likely to experience it than men. While people of all ages can experience vertigo, it is most common in individuals over 50.
What causes vertigo?
Vertigo is often assumed to be a condition, when in fact; it is actually more of a symptom. The most common conditions that cause vertigo include:
· Ménière's Disease: a buildup of excessive fluid in the inner ear
· Labyrinthitis:a viral infection of the inner ear causing inflammation
· Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: a condition where dislodged calcium crystals in the inner ear send false messages to your brain
· Migraines: as a nervous system condition, migraines can cause dizziness along with other typical migraine symptoms, like light- and noise-sensitivity
Can vertigo be a sign of something serious?
Because episodes of vertigo can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few days, it can be hard to determine the severity of each episode. However, if you experience prolonged dizziness or any of the following symptoms, it’s time to see a doctor.
· Sudden and severe headaches
· Changes in speech, vision and/or hearing
· Difficulty walking
· Chest pain
· Changes in heart rate
· Numbness and/or weakness
· Difficulty breathing
· High fever
How can you treat vertigo?
While there isn’t a go-to treatment for vertigo, there is no shortage of effective options. Whether its medication, vestibular therapy, healthy lifestyle changes, surgery or maneuvering techniques, the experts at GMC will help to determine the best treatment plan for you.
In order to truly help patients experiencing vertigo, or other vestibular disorders, GMC’s Vestibular Rehabilitation Program utilizes innovative technology and treatment techniques all provided by specialized physical therapists certified in vestibular rehabilitation.