Vertigo is the sensation of feeling off balance. You will more than likely feel like you are spinning or that the world around you is spinning. Vertigo affects 40% of people over the age of 40 at least once during their lifetime. While some people use the term dizziness to describe vertigo, they are actually two different things. One symptom that sets them apart is that vertigo is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, while dizziness is more of a momentary unbalanced feeling.
What Might Cause Vertigo or Dizziness to Occur?
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): According to Gregory Whitman, MD, from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center, this is one of the most surprising causes of vertigo. The inner ear has calcium and protein-based sensing crystals called otoconia. If they move out of place and float into the inner ear canals, you may experience vertigo. It affects only 1 out of 1000 people each year and mostly targets older adults. This condition has been connected to migraines, head trauma, inner ear infections, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Once corrected, 50% of people have the problem again within 5 years’ time, especially if it was due to trauma.
- The ear’s balance system controls the flow of blood: The inner ear balance system helps to control blood flow and it also knows when the body is positioned upright. Therefore, moving from lying down to standing up causes the two structures of the inner ear – the utricle and saccule – to detect gravity. The cardiovascular system then gets signals to help it direct blood flow to adapt to your new position. If this does not work properly, vertigo can ensue.
- Low vitamin B12 levels: This type of deficiency can lead to neurological issues such as feeling off-balance, having low blood pressure, and decreased blood flow to the brain. While this is easy to detect and simple to correct, it is often an overlooked cause of dizziness. Be sure to include dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals, and meat in your diet to get sufficient amounts of this vitamin.
- Heart disease: This may be due to leaking or narrowing heart valves, atherosclerosis, and arrhythmias (for example, atrial fibrillation). This reduces blood flow to the brain, leading to dizziness.
- Migraines: Vertigo can be a symptom of a migraine with or without an accompanying headache. Additional symptoms of migraine-related vertigo are sensitivity to light, sound, and motion. As many as 40% of migraine sufferers have dizziness or vertigo.
- Medication side effects: There are numerous drugs that list dizziness as a common side effect. Blood pressure medication is a very common one, especially for older adults or people who may have started out on too high of a dose. It is important to ask your doctor to start you out on the lowest dose possible. Be sure to be well informed if any medication you are taking has dizziness or vertigo as a side effect, but keep in mind that most people don’t experience the side effects listed.
- Dehydration or diet: Even mild dehydration can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy because it causes blood pressure to drop. Dieting can also be a culprit as some diets can cause dehydration.
- Meniere’s disease: This is a very likely reason for vertigo to occur. If your vertigo is accompanied by hearing problems in one ear, tinnitus, or a feeling of congestion in the ear, you may be suffering from Meniere’s. It is a rare condition that affects only 0.2% of the population and is most likely found in adults ages 40 to 60.
- Other reasons: These may include stroke, brain tumor, labyrinthitis, or head or neck injury.
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and vertigo download our complimentary e-book by clicking the image below.
A study observed 60 patients who were diagnosed with vertigo. Out of them, 58 remembered having some form of trauma to the head or neck before the onset of their vertigo. They were all seen to have some type of upper cervical misalignment and were each given an upper cervical adjustment to correct this. All 60 were observed and cared for over a 6-month period. All reported having good results from their care. As many as 48 saw their vertigo go away entirely and the last 12 reported having the severity and frequency of their attacks reduced. This shows a clear link between head and neck trauma and vertigo. It also proves just how much upper cervical chiropractic can help vertigo sufferers.
Why is this type of care so effective? The bones of the upper cervical spine, particularly the C1 and C2 vertebrae, are designed to protect the delicate spinal cord and brainstem. A minor accident can cause these bones to misalign because of their location and flexibility. A simple trip and fall, car accident, or any trauma to the head or neck that causes the neck muscles to overextend can make these bones misalign. Once out of alignment, they put the brainstem under pressure and cause it to send faulty signals to the brain about the body’s location. It is easy to see how this could result in the sensation associated with vertigo.
Here at 1st Place Chiropractic in St. Charles, Illinois, we use a technique referred to as NUCCA to help realign the bones of the neck that are out of place. This involves the latest in imaging, precise measurements, and a light touch to a specific part of the neck that encourages the bones to move back into place naturally. We are not required to crack the spine or neck to get results. Many patients have reported similar results to those in the above study.
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if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.