Vertigo is when you falsely sense movement or a sensation of moving while you are not moving at all. Often you may feel as though you or the things around you are spinning. This symptom is associated with a problem in the inner ear. Among the most common kinds of vertigo is BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, and it happens when you move your head to a different position due to the effects of gravity on naturally occurring tiny crystals that have been dislodged in the inner ear.
Vertigo should not be confused with disequilibrium, which is a sensation that you are going to fall or need assistance to get around. Other symptoms of disequilibrium are feeling that the floor is tilted or as though you are floating. All of these symptoms could originate in the inner ear as well, with other motion sensors, or with the central nervous system.
Understanding the differences between vertigo and disequilibrium is helpful since they can be symptoms of various diseases. The truth is that any disorder that affects the sensory function of balance, proprioception, and vision can cause disequilibrium or vertigo. When giving your doctor your thorough patient history, it is important that you provide details of all of your symptoms to help locate where your problem is originating from. Usually doctors will want to know the onset, duration, and severity of symptoms as well as any other symptoms that occur at the same time. For example, here are some other symptoms that may occur with vertigo:
- Ear congestion
- Hearing loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of speech
- Loss of consciousness
- Slowed heart rate
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Loss of vision
- Slurred speech
Something else you may want to include when sharing with your doctor is whether vertigo worsens when you move the position of your head and whether you’ve had ear pain, ear drainage, or head trauma anytime in the past. Other valuable information to include are any problems that family members may have that are similar because health conditions that run in the family can have an impact on the issue in your ears. Here are a few of the things it would be wise to mention:
- Heart disease
- Infectious illnesses — even if they happened a while ago
- Renal failure
- Neurological disorders
Certain medications have vertigo as one of their their side effects, particularly medications prescribed for depression, pain, seizures, and anxiety. Share with your physician whether you are taking any over-the-counter or illegal drugs since these are often associated with vertigo symptoms.
Why Does Vertigo Happen?
Any time your head moves, the vestibular labyrinth and your eyes sense the movement. The semicircular canals within the inner ear sense when your head turns, with linear head movements being sensed by the saccule and utricle. The muscle and joint receptors in the limbs, neck, and spine also sense motion.
Signals from these movements are sent by the superior and inferior vestibular nerve through your auditory canal, continuing into the vestibular nuclei. Next, these signals go to the brain, to be interpreted as movement. Your eyes have a role in movement sensation. The visual system sends messages from the retina via the optic nerves and other optic transmitters. The information gathered from here is then processed by your frontal and parietal cortex, which senses when your head moves and when your environment is in motion, like when you’re riding in a car. Information from the visual and vestibular sensors combine at many levels in the central nervous system, specifically, the brainstem and cerebellum.
Now that we understand more on the way that the brain processes signals of motion, this can clarify what an episode of vertigo has to do with alterations in the function of the labyrinth. This can be caused from a number of things, such as:
- Viral labyrinthitis
- Temporal bone fracture
- Meniere’s disease
- Cerebellopontine angle tumor (this is very rare)
- Bacterial labyrinthitis
- A blood clot
- Perilymph fistula
- Damage of the vestibular nuclei at the brainstem
- Head or neck trauma
Figuring out what is causing your vertigo episodes is key in being able to address the underlying problem. Medications can help with the symptoms, but without treating the reason it is happening, the episodes will return again and again. Another drawback to medications is that they come with unwanted and even dangerous side effects. There actually is a natural option for treating vertigo that has been proven to be extremely effective.
A Natural Treatment for Vertigo
When there are problems with the brainstem, which is a vital part of the central nervous system, it can be what is behind vertigo attacks. There have also been multiple studies showing that many people with vertigo also have an upper cervical misalignment, particularly in the C1, or atlas, vertebra. One study observed 60 patients diagnosed with different variations of vertigo. From the 60, all but 4 remembered an accident or trauma of some kind that affected their head or neck prior to their vertigo onset. After being examined by an upper cervical chiropractor, they found that all 60 had a misalignment in the bones of their upper cervical spine. Each of the patients was given care that was specifically designed for his or her needs, over a 1- to 6-month period. Every one of them reported major improvements in their vertigo, and 48 of them were symptom free!
Here at Atlas Chiropractic of Park Ridge, we use a similar technique when helping our vertigo patients. We do not need to pop or crack the neck to gain effective results. Instead, we apply our gentle method that encourages upper cervical bones of the spine to return to their proper place naturally. By avoiding the use of force, it results in longer-lasting adjustments. Many of our patients have seen their vertigo improve greatly or resolve entirely.