Have you ever felt dizzy?
Did you hear me? What’s going on inside your ear?
Have you been dizzy lately and have no idea what is going on with your body or head? Like the world has tipped on its axis and the room was spinning?
Did you go to see your primary care, who then sent you to the ENT? Then the ENT told you go to PT for vestibular treatment? And you thought, what in the world does that mean?
Why would you go see a PT for dizziness and HOW will that help?
Are you scared, feeling like there is more going on with your body and don’t understand WHY you are dizzy??
It may surprise you to hear that you are not alone. Many people suffer or have suffered from dizziness or vertigo. Thankfully it can be an easy fix with physical therapy and we are going to talk more about what is going on with your body.
So let’s talk about dizziness and how that is related to your inner ear. I know that sounds wild and crazy that our ear can be responsible for us feeling so awful.
Dizziness is no joke and something that no one wants to feel. You can feel nauseous, feel off balance, have a headache, sensitivity to light or noise, shortness of breath, sweating, racing heart, feel like your head is spinning and more that are ALL related to your vestibular system.
So, have you ever wondered what was going on inside your head that is making you feel so dizzy?
A common misconception is that your brain is what is making you feel dizzy, but in fact it is your inner ear. At the end of your ear canal, deeper into your skull sits your inner ear. We call it a labyrinth based on how it looks.
The inner ear is kind of like the control center for our vestibular system and it controls our equilibrium and balance. When there is something wrong or out of place in the inner ear, we can feel dizzy.
There are tiny crystals in our ear called otoconia that sit in a pocket in our inner ear called the utricle. At times, these crystals can dislodge from that pocket and move into one of the 3 semicircular canals in our inner ear.
These canals contain fluid that adjusts as we move our head and body in order to maintain our equilibrium. When the crystals move into one of those canals it disrupts that fluid, making it more turbulent and causing us to feel dizzy. We call this Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV.
BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo, which is a false sense of spinning or movement that will cause us to feel dizzy. This can be caused by head trauma (even a mild injury), high intensity exercise, keeping your head in the same position for a prolonged period of time (at the dentist, hairdresser, strict bed rest), inner ear diseases, migraines and more.
Another way to think about this is to think about grapes on a vine meaning the crystals in our inner ear are like grapes hanging on a vine. When the grapes are freshly bought from the store, they stay on the vine pretty well. The grapes are full in size and hang nicely off the vines. However, as time goes on the vine starts to dry out and the grapes are more likely to fall off of the vine. Our inner ear can become “dried out” just like the vine due to a number of things. Dehydration, after a sinus or ear infection, a response to certain medications or just natural aging can all have an effect on how well the crystals stay in the pocket…or how well the grapes stay on the vine.
When you feel dizzy, a vestibular physical therapist can perform different tests to figure out if the crystals have in fact become loose and entered a canal. They can also determine which canal the crystals are in to better treat you. By taking you through different positions the physical therapist can re-position the crystals back into the pocket, resolving your dizziness, and making you feel much better.
Then there will be exercises and movements that you can practice at home to keep the crystals in the right place and keep your dizziness at bay. No one wants to feel dizzy, feel like their head is spinning, be nauseous, off balance, fall into walls, have trouble concentrating and more!
Now that you understand what is going on inside your ear, I want to give you some tips for what to do that will help IF you are feeling dizzy!
Use a walking stick or cane if you feel like you are going to fall
Quick movements are the worst and will definitely set off your dizziness!
Sit down when you start to feel dizzy. Allow the symptoms to pass and then move slowly!
If your dizziness or spinning is severe, lie down in a dark, quiet room to help reduce all your symptoms (again quieting the entire system)
Stay hydrated…drink more water!
Being on more than 4 medications is the 2nd correlation with getting BPPV
When you are dizzy, avoid laying fully flat when you sleep. Prop yourself up on some pillows so that your head is not flat on the bed or table.
Avoid bending forwards to pick things up off the floor
When you wake up in the morning, sit on the side of the bed for a couple of minutes before you stand up to start walking
Talk with your physician about supplementing your diet with Vitamin D
Seek out professional help!
Why wait when you can be seen by your neighborhood PT today to be able to get you back feeling balanced and on your feet walking without running into walls.
You are also more than welcome to call us first to talk with one of our vestibular specialists to be able to better understand what is going on with your body and how PT can play a role in changing your life.
Life is short and certainly not fun when you feel awful…call us today at 410-721-6333!