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Vertigo: Symptoms and treatment options

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Vertigo: Symptoms and treatment options

You might feel it as soon as you open your eyes – something just doesn’t feel right. When you stand up, the whole room starts to spin.

Vertigo is the sense you or your surroundings are spinning, and the sensation can be debilitating.

“Vertigo is one of those things a lot of people struggle with,” says Vince DiGiovanna, a senior physical therapist at Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Services at Pawleys Island.

Peripheral vertigo is the most common type of vertigo and is characterized by the sudden sensation that you or your environment are spinning. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a type of peripheral vertigo, is triggered by changes in your head’s position. DiGiovanna compares this type of vertigo to being on a boat in rough seas.

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“You get sick as your body does not know where you are in space,” says DiGiovanna. “Your body is saying, ‘I’m standing still,’ but your inner ear is saying, ‘we’re moving.’ The fact that your body, particularly your inner ears, don’t agree with one another can sometimes throw things off.”

You have three different canals in each ear – the posterior, anterior and horizontal canals. These canals are responsible for telling you which direction you are moving and how fast.

Both ears should agree, but when one is saying you’re moving and the other is saying you’re standing still, that’s when you can experience vertigo.

“For some people, you’ll get a condition where what’s sometimes referred to as a crystal loosens in one ear, and it’ll stimulate that ear to think your body is moving even after you’ve stopped,” DiGiovanna says.

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Vertigo can also be caused by conditions that impact your central nervous system, such as your brain and spinal cord.

If you are struggling with vertigo, discuss your symptoms with your care provider. Physical therapy may be an option for relief. With a referral, physical therapists at Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Services can show you how to perform certain procedures to lessen vertigo symptoms.

If physical therapy doesn’t help, you may be referred to a neurologist or other provider to pursue other treatment options.

Vertigo can come on suddenly but often goes away quickly. If you experience severe or prolonged vertigo, always seek prompt medical care. In case of emergency, call 911.

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