Dr. Chelsea Bachelor
When you were young did you and your siblings ever spin around in a chair until you were so dizzy you couldn’t walk? Everyone would laugh and likely climb right back on to do it again.
However, if this feeling did not fade within the first few seconds, the game would not have been fun for long. Continually experiencing this feeling as an adult is referred to as vertigo.
Vertigo is the intense sensation of the head continuing to move after motion has ended and is often accompanied by feelings of nausea, vomiting, and difficulty in balance.
Our ears serve 2 purposes – hearing and balance. The outer and middle ear is used for hearing while the inner ear helps mostly with balance.
Under normal circumstances, head motion causes the movement of fluid and hair cells in our inner ear, specifically our 3 semi-circular canals, and sends information to the brain so we know where our body is in space. We also have tiny calcium crystals within this organ that move to orient us with gravity and sometimes they become dislodged, falling into the fluid-filled circular canals.
Now when the head shifts, the crystals move within the canals and take longer to stop than the fluid, creating the sensation of continued motion. When the input from the inner ear does not match the movement of the body, the whirling sensation of vertigo occurs. Episodes can continue for as long as 60 seconds at a time while the crystals eventually come to a halt.
Vertigo can occur at any age, but an estimated 40% of individuals 40 years and older will experience an episode sometime in their life, majority of these being women. These symptoms can be very debilitating and often prevent people from working or even getting out of bed. Unfortunately, these sensations can continue for weeks, or even months in some rare cases. While every presentation is not the same, it is widely believed that these dislodged crystals in the inner ear are responsible for recurrent vertigo.
Anti-nausea medications are the most common intervention, however they do not address the cause of the problem.
At the office, we use a maneuver to carefully guide the crystals through the canals with a series of coordinated motions. Returning the crystals to their proper place eliminates symptoms and allows people to return to their lives.
If you or someone you know suffers from vertigo, please know that options exist on reversing the condition.
Dr. MJ Wegmann,