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Dizziness Vs. Vertigo

Dizziness may seem like self-explanatory terms for the experiencer; however, there are many different types of dizziness. And with those many different types of dizziness, there are different causes.

Your practitioner should be well versed on the different types of dizzinesses, their presentation, and the appropriate intervention to handle your particular type of dizziness.

For example, the dizziness experienced by a person with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) would be very different than the person who experiences Positional Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). The person with BPPV will likely see the room as spinning with sudden head movements that lasts a few seconds to minutes. The person with POTS will likely describe their dizziness as maybe a head rush, lightheadedness, or wooziness, possibly when standing up quickly or when climbing stairs. Two very different explanations and conditions and two very different treatment approaches to address each patient's dizziness.

Exam and History

A focused exam is required, as well as a thorough history, to determine what is causing your dizziness and what can ultimately be done to help. During the history process, your practitioner may ask you:

Do you experience spinning?

Does it feel like you or the world is spinning?

Which direction are you or the world spinning?

How long does it last?

Is it provoked by head movements?

Did it begin after an infection?

Is there fullness in your ear?

Do you experience any hearing loss?

Do you have any ringing in your ears?

All of these questions and more help your practitioner determine the appropriate diagnosis for your dizziness, and the appropriate treatment approach or referral to address it.

When it comes to treating dizziness, there is no cookie cutter exercise or protocol to fix every or any dizziness. It takes a customized and personalized approach to address each patient's specific problem.

For example, if it was determined that you had vestibular issue on the right side, it wouldn't make sense to treat both the right and the left side indiscriminately and equally. You couldn't give the same exercise protocol to a patient with a right vestibular issue as you would a left vestibular issue, etc.

Vestibular Equilibrium

The vestibular system is the part of your nervous system that detects gravity and tells your brain where your head is in space relative to gravity. You can think of the vestibular system like a scale. If one side of the vestibular system is detecting gravity more than the other, it would only make sense to try to balance out the scales, not put more weight on both sides. The difference between the two would still be the same. Therefore, it would make more sense to make sure that both scales are detecting gravity equally and evenly, to ensure a balanced person.

Three Main Systems of Balance

Now, there are more causes to dizziness than just vestibular imbalance. We identify three main parts of the nervous system that keep us upright and balanced. Those three are:

  1. Vestibular System - inner ear, gravity detection system. This tells our brains where our heads are in space relative to gravity. Gravity is the only constant force on our body, so making sure this system is balanced is essential.

  2. Visual System - eyes, visual environment detection system. The visual system tells our brains where we are in space relative to our external environment. If we have eye movement difficulties, this can throw off our spatial awareness and cause us to become dizzy. This can be a common issue after head injury.

  3. Proprioceptive System - body awareness system. Proprioception is the information the brain gets on where the body is in space relative to the head by using feedback from the joints and muscles. If you have miscommunication between your brain and your body, you may not feel grounded in your body and the world; therefore, leading you to feel dizzy. This can be common after a whiplash or cervical injury.

All three of these systems need to be telling the brain agreeing information. The brain works like a computer. It receives information from its inputs, processes that information, and then produces an appropriate output. If one of these three systems is telling the brain conflicting information, there then becomes an error in processing, and the output is dizziness and imbalance. Restoring these three systems so that they are all on the same page is the essence of restoring a patient's equilibrium.

Further notes: there are other things that can cause dizziness, such as the dizziness experienced in POTS. To learn more about POTS and dysautonomia, follow this link where we discuss it in more depth.

Our Goal to Help

Our goal in helping our patients is to first and foremost gain an understanding on what is causing your particular dizziness. From there we can develop an individualized treatment plan to address the underlying cause and make sure that all three systems mentioned earlier are all working in synchrony and harmony. Based on the patient's needs, we may implement vestibular therapy, eye movement therapy, or proprioceptive or body based therapies, all with the goal of providing a restored feeling of balance and equilibrium.

If you or someone you know is struggling with dizziness or vertigo, feel free to check our our website: Delta Neuro Health, or give us a call: (614)-706-2093 to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.

We look forward to helping you.

dizziness, vertigo, night sky, functional neurology, spinning


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