Vertigo is a disorder of the ear that causes dizziness and disorientation. It occurs when tiny crystals in one part of your ear, called the otolith organs, dislodge and transfer to another part called the semicircular canals. Vertigo is common in adults 60 years and older but can also happen to younger people, especially after a blow to the head. Doctors treat vertigo with a series of therapy sessions and in rare cases, surgery.
Things You'll Need
- Several pillows
See your doctor. He or she can confirm that you have vertigo and determine which ear is causing the problem.
Avoid the "provocative position." Your doctor will instruct you not to lie down on the side of the affected ear. This will reduce your episodes of dizziness.
Take physical therapy. Doctors get the crystals back to their proper location in the ear by using a technique called the canalith repositioning procedure. This is a series of slow and controlled head movements.
Learn the canalith repositioning methods. Your doctor can teach you how to perform the movements yourself. This is important because vertigo usually takes several sessions of therapy to clear completely.
Elevate your head. After each therapy session, lie down with your head on several pillows. This helps to direct the crystals to a part of the ear where they won't cause trouble and where the fluids in your inner ear can reabsorb them easily.
Follow up. After therapy, ask your doctor to recheck your ears to ensure that the crystals are back where they belong. If vertigo reoccurs, your doctor may recommend surgery to do the work that therapy couldn't.
Tips & Warnings
- Vertigo is bothersome, but when there's a risk of falling, it becomes dangerous. The Mayo Clinic recommends that vertigo patients sit immediately when a spell begins and move slowly when making movements that trigger an episode. The hospital also recommends using night lights and walking with a cane if you're at risk of falling.
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