How To Tell When You Are Experiencing Vertigo | Nose Creek Physiotherapy
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How To Tell When You Are Experiencing Vertigo

Help! Everything is spinning around me!              

….If this is you, you may be suffering from vertigo.

“Vertigo problems are one of the most common reasons older adults seek help from their doctors.” – Blair Schachterle, Physiotherapist.

What Causes Vertigo?

Many people are surprised to learn that the source of their dizziness may be because of an inner ear or vestibular condition. Within the inner ear lie collections of calcium crystals known as otoconia or otoliths. In patients with Vertigo the otoconia are dislodged from their usual position within the utricle. This displacement can result in a sensation of vertigo. The  common precursors to vertigo that are seen in Physiotherapy clinics includes:                     

  • Head injuries
  • Whiplash
  • Hitting the head from a fall
  • Degeneration of the vestibular system of the inner ear
  • Post ear surgeries
  • Post dental work and ear trauma

A common vertigo condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is often the cause. With BPPV there is generally feelings of nausea, dizziness and a sensation of spinning. This nerve wrecking condition can affect a person’s independence, ability to work and their quality of life. Also, BPPV is common in people who have been treated with ototoxic medications such as gentamicin and those with a history of migraines.


Facts about Dizziness and Balance Disorders:

  • Dizziness/vertigo is prevalent. It is estimated to occur in 1.8% of young adults to more than 30% in the elderly. 
  • There are about 5 to 8 million Physician visits for dizziness in the United States each year.
  • In Canada, about 1.5 million people suffer from chronic vestibular problems.
  • One in three people will experience dizziness or imbalance during their lifetime.
  • 23-30% of adults have experienced at least one episode of dizziness, and 3.5% of adults experience chronic recurrent episodes of more than one-year duration by age 65.
  • BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) is thought to be responsible for 50% of all dizziness in seniors.
  • About 20% of all dizziness seen in medical offices is due to BPPV.

The Symptoms of Vertigo Include:

  • Feeling unsteady
  • Spinning that last for at least a few seconds
  • Lightheadedness
  • Imbalance
  • Nausea

Vertigo may also lead to other problems such as fatigue, difficulty walking, depression or disinterest in everyday activities.


Vertigo may very often be precipitated by changes in position of the head with respect to gravity. Simple activities such as getting out of bed, turning in bed or turning the head to look up can trigger vertigo. If your vertigo is triggered by head motions or position changes, vestibular rehabilitation can help. If you have vertigo that is not motion sensitive it is advisable that you see a Physician.


Can Physiotherapy Help?  

Yes. Motion sensitive vertigo can be treated with vestibular rehabilitation that is offered by vestibular trained Physiotherapists.

Vestibular Rehabilitation:

Vestibular rehabilitation is a proven treatment for vertigo, dizziness, balance problems and vestibular disorders. Treatments for vestibular disorder may include various procedures that can be offered as part of vestibular rehabilitation.

These include:

  • Assessment to enable a diagnosis
  • Repositioning exercises
  • Balancing exercises
  • Gaze stabilization exercises
  • Visual dependency reduction exercises
  • Physical conditioning exercises
  • Somatosensory dependence training

Benefits of Vestibular Rehabilitation:

In cases of patients that have been on medications for days, weeks or months for displaced crystal in the inner ear, they can regain normal function again. Rehabilitation of the vestibular system offers our patients the chance to feel normal again and return to active life.

At Nose Creek Sports Physiotherapy clinic we can help.   

Don’t suffer in silence; seek help today!   

Desmond, Advance for Audiologists July/August 2000.
Sloan PD, et al. Dizziness: State of the science. Ann Intern Med. May 1, 2001; 134(9 pt 2):823-32
U.S  national Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, March 1997.
University of Virginia Health System, Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, Vestibular & Balance Center.  


Blair Schachterle
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