Vestibular Vertigo, also commonly known as a vestibular balance disorder, is a set of symptoms that cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of balance, disorientation, & migraine intensity headaches. vertigo can occur at any age, although they are more common in older people.
Vestibular Vertigo refers to a problem with the inner ear. The inner ear is a delicate system of the body that helps us maintain our balance respective to our position in space. It is filled up with a fluid that changes its position with any head movements, thus sending signals to the brain regarding the body’s position in space. When even one of these systems doesn’t work properly, it leads to a problem with the way the brain manages the balance signals.
This causes a misfire in the brain which in turn causes the person to feel nauseous, dizzy, & makes it difficult for them to keep their balance.
What leads to Vestibular Disorders?
Vestibular Disorder can occur due to a number of reasons. Some of the most common of those include:
- Certain medications that cause some specific side effects
- Certain ear infections like Vestibular Neuritis, labyrinthitis, or any other infection
- Inner ear problems like poor circulation inside the ear
- Calcium crystals in the semicircular canal, also known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
- A traumatic brain injury, or a blunt force trauma to the forehead
- Old age
- Ear surgery
In some cases, the exact cause of vestibular vertigo is not known.
What are Vestibular Vertigo symptoms?
Vestibular Vertigo symptoms vary from one individual to another, depending on their age, general health, medical history, & other assorted conditions. However, there are certain symptoms that are common for almost all vestibular vertigo patients.
These common vestibular vertigo symptoms include:
- A feeling of being off-balance
- A feeling of floating or the surroundings spinning around yourself
- Blurred vision
- Feeling disoriented
- Falling down or stumbling
Other less common symptoms of vestibular vertigo include:
- A feeling of fear
- Changes in your heart’s rhythm, arrhythmia
How is a case of Vestibular Vertigo diagnosed?
Vestibular Vertigo diagnosis consists of a variety of vertigo tests to reach a conclusion. In some cases, surgical exploration of the affected side may also be needed. An ear, nose, throat specialist(ENT) can figure out if you suffer from vestibular vertigo with the help of some specific diagnostic tests & your medical history, presentation, intensity & frequency of symptoms, etc.
Your doctor might also run some tests that help them rule out any other causes of your vestibular vertigo.
The tests that your doctor might use to diagnose your condition include:
- Hearing tests, also known as audiometry
- Vision tests
- Blood tests to rule out infections, cancer, or any other issue
- Imaging tests of the brain & the head, like MRI scans, or CT scans of the head
- Clinical tests that specifically test your balance
- Studying your posture & movement with the help of structured exams like posturography
This helps your doctor figure out the origin of your balance problems & where they are centred.
How is Vestibular Vertigo treated?
Vestibular Vertigo treatment includes a variety of vertigo medicines, vertigo exercises, & vertigo home remedies. The kind of vertigo treatment you get depends on what exactly is causing your condition. Not every vestibular vertigo treatment works for every patient with vestibular vertigo. However, a combination of vertigo exercises, vertigo medicines, & home remedies generally seems to work for most vestibular vertigo patients.
These common vestibular vertigo treatments include:
Treating the underlying cause:
This includes medicines to root out any infections that might be causing your vestibular vertigo symptoms. If any injury or trauma is the cause of your vestibular vertigo, then treatment will include treating the injury & its aftereffects. In some cases, surgery might also be needed, especially if the injury caused any structural damage.
Changes in lifestyle:
Certain lifestyle changes also help bring the vertigo symptoms under control. These include quitting smoking, reducing the intake of alcohol, caffeine, practising stress control, indulging in relaxation activities like yoga, dancing, gardening, knitting, etc. to keep everyday stress under control. Such lifestyle changes can help in improving posture, balance, & other vestibular issues you might be having.
Canalith Repositioning maneuvers:
Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers, which include the Epley maneuver, & the Semont-Foster maneuver, help reinstate the misplaced calcium crystals form inside the semicircular canals of the inner ear, back to their original position in the middle ear. There, these calcium crystals don’t cause any problems with the body’s balance &/or position in space.
Your doctor will generally perform the maneuvers in their office, post which they will give you certain guidelines & recommendations to follow for quick, effective recovery from your vestibular vertigo.
However, in some cases, you can perform the Epley Maneuver & the Semont-Foster/Liberatory maneuver yourself at home or your office. Both of these exercises help you get quick relief from your vestibular vertigo symptoms.
Follow the steps below when you have left-ear BPPV.
Remember to follow the instructions carefully to get quick & effective relief from your vertigo symptoms.
- Sit on the edge of your bed in an upright position. Now, turn your head 45 degrees in the right direction.
- Next, drop on your left side quickly. Your head should be completely lying on the bed.
- Hold this position for a minute, then return to your original position slowly.
- Now, quickly move your body to the right side without changing the position & the angle of your head. Do this in a single movement. After this movement, you should now be facing the floor.
- Stay in this position for a minute. Slowly return to your position.
If you have right-ear BPPV, turn your head to the left & drop on your right side first.
Remember to stay sitting up for about 10 minutes after performing this exercise. Ideally, you should repeat these exercises once every day until your vertigo improves a bit. For left-ear BPPV, here is how you can easily perform the Epley Maneuver yourself:
- Sit on the bed in an upright position, placing your legs straight ahead in front of you. Also, place a pillow behind yourself.
- Turn your head towards the left at an angle of about 45 degrees.
- Now, lie on your back quickly until your shoulders are on the pillow. Allow any dizziness to pass, then stay in the position for another 30 seconds.
- Turn your entire body in such a manner that you’re lying on your right side. Allow any dizziness to pass, then wait for another 30 seconds.
- Now, Sit on the edge of the bed in an upright position.
If you have right-ear BPPV, turn your head to the right first & drop to the left. Also, take care to not perform any activity for at least about 15 minutes after performing the Epley maneuver.
Your doctor will help you to perform the maneuvers yourself with the help of either video conferencing, or giving you an adequate procedure to follow so that you can perform the procedure properly & don’t injure yourself.
In some cases, and if nothing else helps in your vestibular vertigo treatment, surgical options might be necessary. Your doctor might surgically remove the displaced calcium crystals inside your inner ear, & place them back into the middle ear’s utricle where they can get dissolved or broken up into small pieces. Other surgical options to treat certain injuries, trauma to the head, etc. might also be needed.
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy:
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy refers to a set of exercises that help train your body to compensate for the losses in the natural vestibular system. It trains your other senses & organ systems to make up for the natural vestibular system dysfunction. Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy helps people with vestibular vertigo live a better quality of life & deal with their balance issues in a better, more sophisticated way. In addition, you might also need to make some safety arrangements for your everyday tasks.
- going up & down the stairs
- driving, as you might need to wait for some time before you can actually drive yourself
- walking and exercising
- going to the restroom
- making necessary changes & adjustments to your home environment to help with the balance issues
- wearing low heeled shoes
- changing your everyday habits, like walking in the morning instead of evening hours so that you can get help in case you fall down or get dizzy
- using a cane or a walker for help & balance while walking
Vertigo medicines that help restore balance, reduce the sensations of nausea, vomiting, etc., are also used for vestibular vertigo treatment. These medicines include meclizine tablet, stugeron forte tablet, stemetil MD tablet, promethegan, & antihistamine tablets, along with anti-migraine medicines. Some other medicines include medicines to treat any ongoing infections like antibiotic medications, anti-viral medications, & anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling & inflammation inside the ear.