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Whoa! It's Vertigo!: December 1, 2011

People with vertigo may feel like they’ve stepped off a roller coaster. The unexpected dizziness is no joy ride, but has several causes.

“An infection in the inner ear a lot of times it also occurs just from degenerative changes as we age and the structures in the inner ear change,” says Dawn Root, a physical therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.

One of the most common types of vertigo is BBPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

“What can cause BBPV commonly is a fall, a head injury where a patient falls and bangs their head or even any other type of head injury,” says Dawn.

It stems from your ears, and the tiny crystals within them that are responsible for equilibrium.

“Some of those crystals can become loose and dislodge from the utricle and then fall into one or more of these canals, so when the patient moves their head in certain positions, the crystals will move within the canal and then that will create the symptoms of vertigo,” says Dawn.

Symptoms like nausea and involuntary eye movements can literally make you sick. Luckily, there’s a simply approach to stop the spinning without drugs.

“The goal of therapy is to move the patient in certain positions to move those crystals along the canal and then back out into the central area where the body will then break them down and reabsorb them and then the patient will no longer have symptoms,” says Dawn.

Patients have to regain their balance and get comfortable back on their feet.

“Work on increasing their confidence with their balance improving their balance so that they’re safe to return to all the activities that they were doing prior to the onset of the vertigo,” says Dawn.

So they can hopefully coast through life, without the wild ride.