The dizzying truth about vertigo
THE specific BLOG
Dr. Chris Collins
Vertigo can make you feel out of control. But, taking control — of your health and healing — is the best remedy for finding relief.
Here’s an intro — Vertigo is the sensation that you’re moving when you’re not.
The word derives from the Latin ‘vertere’ meaning to turn and ‘-igo’ meaning a condition. People experiencing vertigo say it’s similar to motion sickness or generally describe it as “feeling dizzy” or feeling like the room is spinning.
If you suffer from vertigo, you know how disorienting, uncomfortable and debilitating it can be.
Though there’s a lot of general research out there about vertigo, it’s difficult to find answers on how to alleviate the severity of attacks or how to stop them altogether. Since vertigo can have many underlying causes, it takes time to truly determine how and why vertigo began, where it came from and why it lingers.
The reality of vertigo, like many other conditions, is: There’s no one cure that makes vertigo go away forever. However, there is hope for healing and minimizing the negative impact vertigo has on your life.
Keep reading to hear about a client of mine who found hope in her vertigo journey.
For this article, I spoke with my client, Desi Colón.
She was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease in 2012, which resulted in major hearing loss and chronic vertigo and tinnitus. I asked Desi to share her perspective, some of the challenges she’s experienced and what’s helped.
“Living with vertigo can add uncertainty and confusion to your life, and at times, it feels like there’s no help or answers for how to manage this illness,” Desi said. “Though living with a chronic illness is tough, there is hope for healing, and it starts with getting to know your own body and most importantly, trusting your body.”
Before we jump in to the full story, here’s what we’ll cover in this blog:
- Vertigo 101
- The common treatments for vertigo
- Getting to the root of the problem and finding a solution
Every person’s experience is different, which makes vertigo hard to understand. Generally speaking, vertigo feels like a combination of motion sickness, dizziness and nausea or similar to the drunken “spins.” And they don’t call them vertigo “attacks” for nothing. A mild attack can include a headache, some discomfort behind your eyes and low ear ringing. If you have a severe attack, you may experience intense dizziness to the point of vomiting, difficulty standing or getting out of bed and exhaustion.
Research shows there are several conditions that lead to vertigo, stemming from an imbalance in the inner ear or an issue with the central nervous system. The most common are:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): Vertigo brought on by changes in the head position and sometimes caused by calcium crystals floating in the semicircular canals of the ear.
- Ménière’s disease: An inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing,. Vertigo flareups can be caused or intensified by fluid retainment in the ears and stress (not positional, like BPPV).
- Vestibular Neuritis or Labyrinthitis: Inflammation of the vestibular nerve or the labyrinth, which can be caused by viral infections.
- Acute peripheral vestibulopathy: Inflammation of the inner ear, which causes a sudden onset of vertigo.
These are the most common, but vertigo also shows up as a side effect of migraines, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions, so it’s important to seek support from a medical professional if you have frequent attacks.
Here’s two helpful videos for further understanding vertigo.
The common treatments for vertigo
Whether you’re searching online, reading a textbook or speaking to a medical professional, you’ll find the most common vertigo treatments are taking medicines, physical therapy and getting plenty of rest. Learn more about these treatments below.
- Diuretics (or water pills) help by removing excess fluid in the body, especially if you have Ménière’s disease.
- Antihistamines or motion sickness medicines can provide temporary relief for nausea and dizziness.
- Anti-anxiety medicines can be prescribed by doctors as a proactive measure, since vertigo can be brought on or made worse by stress. But some anti-anxiety medicines can be addictive, so I recommend taking extra precautions before incorporating new medications.
- Birth control can also be helpful as a way to manage the impact hormones have on the system.
- Physical therapy and exercises, like the Epley Maneuver, are most effective if you BPPV and can be done with a professional or at home.
- Bed rest and waiting for the episode to pass are also commonly advised ways to manage vertigo.
Watch this video to better understand the Epley Maneuver.
Depending on how bad or what the cause of vertigo is, these treatments can help alleviate some symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these treatments don’t get to the root cause of the problem, which was true for Desi (as you’ll learn below).
If you’ve gotten relief from the above treatments, that is great!
If you’ve tried everything mentioned and are still suffering from vertigo, keep reading.
The Solution: Getting to the root of the problem
“There’s a lot of information out there, but to be honest, I found a lot of it was either outdated or didn’t work for me. It’s one of the worst feelings when you’re suffering and you can’t find concrete solutions to make you feel better. I was constantly reminded by doctors that there was no cure, and I was even casually told I would probably lose my hearing, because that was just what happened with Ménière’s disease patients. Hearing that gave me a very grave outlook for the future.”
Unfortunately, I’ve heard this type of story many times from clients I work with.
It’s no secret that medicines are often overprescribed, and at times, only serve as band aids or “quick fixes.” To fix the major challenges your body goes through, you have to identify and treat the underlying problems. Getting to know your body — how it works and what it needs — is the key to long-lasting health and healing. Once you understand your body, you’ll learn it’s always in control and that you can trust your body to do the healing.
But, in order for your body to heal itself, your nervous system — a.k.a. your “control center” — needs to be functioning properly. This is where I come in as an upper cervical chiropractic.
“When I first met Dr. Collins, he was confident he could help my vertigo, and he was right. I walked into his office, had one conversation and immediately signed up,” said Desi. “After consistent visits with Dr. Collins for about two months, my vertigo attacks went from three per month to ONE attack per month. I cannot stress how life-changing that was. At this point, I’d been struggling for over 5 years with terrible anxiety and fear of what my future would look like with this chronic illness. To finally have answers and support gave me confidence that vertigo didn’t have to ruin my life.”
Not your typical chiropractic experience
“Dr. Collins listened to me, got to know me and even opened the office on a Sunday once because I had a severe attack and needed help right then. On more than one occasion, I’ve been adjusted and the vertigo cleared up soon after. Talking with Dr. Collins made me feel like I could be honest and transparent about how difficult my illness had made my life — but more importantly, I learned Meniere’s disease didn’t have to rule my life.”
Upper cervical chiropractic provides a holistic approach to health in the body. A chiropractor who specializes in upper cervical tests for proper function of the nervous system and the spine with a clinical emphasis on the top two bones of the neck. When necessary, an upper cervical chiropractor uses a precise adjustment to correct the function of one area of the spine. The adjustment is only delivered when nervous system dysfunction or irritation is present. This process allows the body to restore proper communication between the brain and cells throughout the body. There is no twisting, cracking, and popping several areas of the body.
If you’d like to understand more about how upper cervical chiropractic works, watch this video/read this article.
A holistic view of health
It’s important to note that Desi’s healing didn’t happen overnight. Within the first few months of consistent adjustments, she saw huge results, but in order for these changes to last, she needed to address other factors in her life. When we dug deeper into her story and overall health, we identified several areas where she could improve to give her body the best chance at fighting off the vertigo.
“At the time, I saw myself as a healthy 28-year-old who just happened to be cursed with a chronic illness. But, after many honest discussions and a full look at my health history, I realized there were many other factors making my vertigo worse that had nothing to do with genetics or just a case of bad luck. I frequently ate out, I rarely exercised and my stress levels were out of control.”
In our office, we use a model for talking about all aspects of health called the Health House model to help clients be empowered with information and strategies to improve their relationship with their health and make it less overwhelming.
Here’s the Health House Model in a nutshell:
- The roof of the house as our mindset, attitude and perspective.
- The pillars of the house represent the structure of influences to health in our lifestyle — like our diet, physical fitness, rest and sleep, and mental and emotional wellbeing.
- The foundation is the nervous system.
These three sections also include six check points with strategies to boost immune function. In order to make real, lasting progress in your health journey, it’s vital that you address and correct these areas. Check this article to read more about the Health House Model.
In Desi’s case, in addition to chiropractic, she started with her stress levels and nutrition first. I introduced her to stress-reducing breathing techniques, and she worked on incorporating yoga and more walks into her routine. Desi also found that herbal medicine was a key ingredient in feeling her best.
“I’ve seen many doctors, tried lots of medicines, exercises, wishing and praying … you name it,” Desi said. “When it comes to vertigo attacks, I would try anything to make them go away or to at least alleviate the intensity of the attack. Many of the previously remedies help, but the game changer for me that I can say truly changed my life was chiropractic. What’s shocking to me is that in all my research and doctor’s visits, no one ever mentioned this as a solution.”
In order for your body to heal itself, your nervous system — a.k.a. your “control center” — needs to be functioning properly. Click here to schedule a consultation with Dr. Collins to see if you would be a good candidate for care.
Desi has been continually progressing under care in our office and more recently she came across another game changer for improving her vertigo — herbal medicine.
I have asked her to share her experience below.
Herbal medicines, in the form of teas and tinctures, serve as building blocks for your body and help your body maintain health. Many of the medicines you know or take derive from plants, so taking herbs and plants directly is very beneficial.
“Meniere’s Disease is often called an ‘old person’s disease’ and as a result, I was experiencing problems that are more common as people age like vertigo, hearing loss and vision loss. Because of my illness, my body was degenerating much faster than it should have been. I decided to work with an herbalist in Nashville who created custom herbal tinctures designed to restore my body, balance my hormones and tame stress. After taking these herbs daily for one month, I started feeling like a brand-new woman — having more energy than ever before and even milder vertigo spells.
The results I have seen are incredible, but none of this happened overnight. In fact, my story took place over a three-year time frame and were filled with good times and bad times. That may sound like a long time, but I want to emphasize this: Three years of testing possible solutions, while making huge strides in health, is nothing in comparison to living with chronic pain and unexplained illness for years on end.
If you’ve seen results with other treatments, I’m glad to hear that, but, if you haven’t had the results you’re looking for, I’d recommend discussing how you can get the help you deserve.”
For more information, please schedule a virtual consultation here.
The Specific Chiropractic Centers helps you reclaim the life you love with personalized chiropractic care for each individual. For more information, please visit novelchiropractic.com.
Looking for more? Check out these resources:
- Meniere’s disease blog
- Health House Model information or blog
- Migraine blog
- Where is stress stored in the body? — Mindgarden’s “Stress-Less” Podcast
- Mysterious Migraine Cases — Mindgarden’s “Stress-Less” Podcast
- Solving Mysteries in Health — Mindgarden’s “Stress-Less” Podcast