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Vertigo – Did you know…

Vertigo sufferers may experience ringing in the ears and feeling sick to your stomach.  These symptoms tend to get worse when moving or changing position and episodes can happen without warning.  Most episodes last from just a few seconds to a few days, but can also last a few months in severe cases, making normal life difficult.

Are there different types of Vertigo?

Vertigo is related to a number of problems in the inner ear, which is responsible for helping keep your balance. 

The most common type is:  Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) and can occur after certain head movements. It’s thought that when someone has BPPV, small crystals float into semi circular canals of the inner ear. The crystals can cause short, strong “attacks,” resulting in nausea and brief, uncontrollable eye movements.  Surgery, trauma or infection are all believed to be causes of this type of vertigo.

Another type: Meniere’s disease, starts with symptoms such as occasional hearing difficulties, ringing and pressure in the ears.  These symptoms usually last from 30 minutes and up to several hours.  The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is also not well understood.

Helpful Tips:

  • Sleep with your head slightly raised on two or more pillows.
  • Get up slowly out of bed and sit on the edge of the bed for a minute before standing.
  • Avoid extending your neck (ie; when reaching up to a high shelf)
  • For BPPV: your doctor may perform an Epley maneuver by moving your head in specific ways to move the crystal away from the inner ear canal. The Epley maneuver may be more effective than other maneuvers or medication.
  • For Meniere’s disease:  Cut down on salt, avoid caffeine and quit smoking.

Medication Options:

Since vertigo is not well understood, medication is mainly used to help manage your symptoms.  You may be prescribed one or both of the following:

  • Anti vertigo agents (betahistine) are thought to work be reducing the pressure of the fluid in the inner ear, which may help to reduce the symptoms of vertigo.
  • Vestibular suppressants and antiemetics (eg; scopolamine and dimenhydrinate) reduce or control the quick eye movements associated with losing balance and treat nausea.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have ongoing dizziness and other vertigo symptoms, or if they keep coming back, you should visit your family doctor for an assessment. It’s frustrating to have vertigo-like symptoms, especially when they cannot be explained. 

Remember, vertigo is manageable, and with the help of your doctor, you can stay informed on how to best treat your condition.

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Carol Wilmot, Director of Nursing
Phone: 604-781-4784

Laura Hart, Office Administrator
Phone: 604-789-5447