Vertigo: Dizziness

By Yasmin Sparavec, Osteopath

Vertigo is a cluster of symptoms (which include dizziness) rather than a medical condition, and research shows that nearly 40% of all people over the age of 40 will experience vertigo at least once in their lifetime. Our ability to stay balanced is maintained by several systems within the body, that all feedback to the brain:

  1. The proprioceptive system—stretch receptors in muscles and ligaments.
  2. The vestibular System—receptive organs within the membranes and the labyrinth and semicircular canals of the inner ear
  3. The sensorimotor control system which controls sight and hearing
  4. Vertigo develops when delicate parts of the ears no longer accurately send information to the brain, regarding your position. This can occur as a result of:
    • Ear infections of the inner ear
    • Head injuries
    Maintaining balance depends upon information received by the brain from three sources: Eyes, Muscles, Joints.
    All three of the information sources send impulses to the brain in the form of nerve impulses originating in the neck (cervical spine) indicate the direction in which the head is turned. Also, cues from proprioceptors in the ankles indicate the body’s movement or sway relative to the ground, as well as the quality of the ground surface.
    Disruption to any of these systems can cause sensory confusion to the brain, resulting in dizziness.
    What can be done to treat dizziness?
  5. Osteopathic Treatment
    First an osteopath must look at the causes of dizziness , such as:
    • Ear infections
    • Head injury
    • Low blood pressure
    • Visual/Eye problems
    • Heart Complication
    Increased muscle/fascial tension and altered spinal mobility may compromise the nervous system, resulting in abnormal feedback to the brain, which can make you feel light headed and dizzy.
    Neck tension can be caused by whiplash, neck injuries, poop posture, teeth grinding, temporomandibular joint (jaw) dys-function and also stress.
    Treatment by an osteopath, involves connection he musculoskeletal dysfunction causing the sensory confusion.
    Many of the soft tissue structures such as small muscles, ligaments and joint capsular ligaments are richly supplied by proprioceptive sensory receptors, which ‘tell’ the brain and determine the position of the head on the neck. This happens in combination with vestibular and visual information.
  6. Exercise for Benign Postitional Vertigo
    Within the semicircular cancals of the inner ear, small crystals can build up, which trigger vertigo when the head is moved. Exercises can be given that help to clear the canals of the inner ear chambers. They can be done quickly and painlessly to help relieve the dizziness.
  7. Reduce stress
    Chronic stress is capable of reducing immunity, increasing the chance of ear infections and swelling related to the vestibular system. Stress
    relievers include:
    • Exercise/body conditioning/being active
    • Yoga
    Healthy Diet
    Anti-inflammatory foods can help manage inflammation and dehydration within the body, which lowers your risk of vertigo. Food to include should be rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as:
    • Fish
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • Avocado
    Also drink plenty of water, as even mild dehydration can cause changes in blood pressure, that can make you feel off balance and nauseous.

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