What is the Difference between Vertigo and Dizziness?
Dizziness is a common ailment that is classified into 3 types: vertigo, syncope and nonsyncope nonvertigo. Each has unique symptoms and all are related to the sense of balance. Syncope is defined as a brief loss of consciousness (fainting) or by dimmed vision, light-headedness and a general feeling of lack of coordination. Vertigo is the sensation that either you or the room is spinning. Nonsyncope nonvertigo is a when an individual cannot maintain their balance and movement makes it worse.
What are the different causes of dizziness?
Careful attention to the symptoms will help you determine the cause of dizziness. Are you dizzy for a few moments or a few days? Does the type of dizziness change or do several types of dizziness occur at the same time? Even with careful monitoring of your symptoms, you must remember that many types of dizziness occur with no reason or linkable cause.
Syncope can be a result of:
- Low blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Disorders in the autonomic nervous system
- Trouble breathing
- Emotional distress
- Reaction to outside stressors
Nonsyncope nonvertigo dizziness can be a result of:
- Rapid breathing
- Low blood sugar
- Migraine headaches
Vertigo can be a result of:
- Meniere’s disease
- Inner ear infections
- Vestibular disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis
What can I expect when I see my doctor for dizziness?
When you go for your initial visit to the doctor it’s a good idea to have a mental or written record of your dizzy spells. Make sure to be as detailed as possible with your symptoms. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
- How long does each episode of dizziness last?
- Do you get nausea?
- Do you have ringing in your ears?
- Have you had a recent injury or infection?
- What medications are you taking?
- Do you have headaches or vision changes?
The doctor will do an exam that will included the following:
- Blood pressure
- Pulse rate
- Respiration rate
- Body temperature
- Exam of ears, nose and throat
- Moving the head to various positions
- Further testing may include hearing test, MRI, CT
When do people seek care for dizziness?
People often seek care for dizziness when it is debilitating or occurs frequently.
One of the more common and debilitating vertigos is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) that can be easily treated in the office. This condition can cause a person to feel like the room is spinning around them or that they are spinning around the room and they may not be able to function. It is usually worse when lying down.
What is the treatment?
Treatment in office will occur after a detailed medical history and exam. Depending on your diagnosis, possible treatments include:
- Chiropractic adjustment of the head, neck or jaw
- Epley maneuver
If stress is the main cause, relaxation techniques such as yoga and massage may be suggested.
What is the Epley maneuver?
The Epley maneuver is a simple positional technique that the doctor performs on the patient. While the patient sits on the table the doctor turns the patient’s head 45 degrees before rapidly tipping the patient backwards to lie flat on his/her back. Then the doctor will observe rapid eye movement either side to side or up to down (called nystagmus) and wait for the eye movement to stop before having the patient roll on to their side while the doctor cradles the head, slowly rotating it until the patient is looking at the ground. They will hold this position for 1 minute.
For most patients, the vertigo is gone by the time they sit up. The procedure will take only a few minutes.
Remember, dizziness and vertigo can be caused by serious conditions and shouldn’t be ignored. Please tell your doctor about your symptoms and get treated sooner rather than later.