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Did you know that Physical Therapists treat dizziness?

The most common cause of dizziness is called BPPV. You turn over in bed and suddenly the room is spinning. It feels awful but after a few seconds the feeling subsides. You notice when you turn your head quickly or look up it seems to happen again. You may have BPPV or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.

BPPV is characterized by short bouts of dizziness that occur with changes in head position. Symptoms may last up to a minute but subside even if you do not change positions. Sometimes you may have a mild feeling of light headedness that persists, but it is not severe. These symptoms occur because of the displacement of crystals in your inner ear.

You have 3 canals in your inner ear that are filled with tiny hair cells which move back and forth as you turn your head. Near these canals there are crystals that are normally imbedded in the adjacent portion of your ear. Sometimes they become dislodged and roll into the canals. This causes disruption of the hair cells and produces the feeling of dizziness.

This happens more frequently in people over the age of 60 but can also happen in younger people. Head trauma, holding your head in one position for a long time, such as in the Dentist chair, and other inner ear diseases can lead to BPPV.

Symptoms can include dizziness, loss of balance, a since of spinning, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms can be frightening.

Sometimes the problem will resolve on its own. If symptoms persist or if accompanied by severe headache, fever, hearing loss or trouble speaking you should consult your doctor and seek emergency care.

Your physical therapist at A Step Ahead Physical Therapy can make a diagnosis of BPPV by taking a thorough history and performing a test called the Dix Hallpike. The test involves fast position change of your head along with observance of eye movements called nystagmus.

A physical therapist can perform a treatment called an Epley maneuver and other exercises to reposition the crystals and address the feelings of dizziness and balance. Symptoms are often resolved in 1-2 sessions unless there are unresolved balance issues. Untreated symptoms can come and go for extended periods but with treatment they only recur in about 50% of people and usually years apart.

If you have been having symptoms of dizziness, don’t just live with it. Call us at A Step Ahead (770-998-6636) and schedule a vestibular evaluation.

By: Laura McBurnett PT, MHS


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