Are you playing Google Search Doctor? Trying to find the remedies that will hopefully cure your dizziness? You’ve likely come across many at-home vertigo remedies involving odd head maneuver videos and tutorials.
However, you wouldn’t try to reset a broken bone on your own. So why try to fix your dizziness alone?
It can be dangerous to try and solve the cause of your dizziness on your own. Given the large number of causes of dizziness and vertigo, you might be trying to remedy the wrong problem. Your dizziness might root from something entirely different than the eyes, ears and somatosensory systems (where the balance centers are housed).
That’s why it’s best to defer to experts in the field.
A major cause of dizziness is dysfunction in the vestibular system. The brain’s balance centers cannot use the broken vestibular data to determine proper positioning in space and only have correct input from the eyes and somatosensory systems. Therefore the brain takes on an additional role in trying to compensate for the vestibular weakness. This is exhausting! The result is dizziness. And this might be you.
So how do we fix this problem?
The key is through brain plasticity — basically reorienting the way your brain helps you balance through a vestibular rehabilitation program.
The purpose of vestibular rehab therapy is to teach the brain to compensate for a less efficient vestibular system. Essentially, we’re training your brain to recalibrate and find balance shortcuts that don’t put you in the same position you were before. Think of it this way: your brain is a muscle and we have to strengthen it.
Like everything in this world besides bacon and avocado, there’s never just a single fix. In other words… a magic pill does not exist.
This isn’t an article describing vestibular rehab techniques so that you can attempt them yourself. Rather, we’re lifting the veil on the methodologies we use, so that you understand the complexity of this science. And realize why you need to see an expert.
Every house needs a great foundation. You can hang the nicest paintings, lay the shiniest tile floor, and install top of the line appliances. But if your foundation is rotten, that house is going to eventually come tumbling down.
Balance training is the foundation of dizziness treatment (but not always the first stage to treatment).
Realistically, everyone needs to be doing exercises to strengthen their core (and thus their balance) not just dizzy patients. However, for dizzy patients it is especially important.
- Doing a task while balancing on a plank or a ball (or anything that is not dangerous)
- Coordinated stationary and dynamic movements
- Triggering somatosensory system with coordinated prompts
The purpose of the balance training therapy is to improve stability and build confidence in the patient. We want dizzy patients to be able to carry out daily activities like walking, turning, and bending without losing balance.
Balance training is one part of therapy we would encourage you to do at home as well. Yoga, tai chi, and core strengthening exercises are great ways to do so.
An unsteady hand cannot draw a straight line, just like an unsteady eye cannot comprehend stability. The purpose, then, of gaze stabilization is to correct the unsteady eye through a set of synchronised head and eye movements. Patients will focus on an object while asked to make certain head movements. This is the underlying principle of gaze stabilization.
At the Dizzy & Vertigo Institute, we utilize virtual reality and visually immersive environments to administer these therapies.
The vestibular rehab therapy ranges from simple visual stimulation with ocular tracking to highly complex and advanced head and body movements. The treatment really depends on the diagnosis and patient’s tolerance levels. It’s like getting into cold water. Some people need to be eased in while others can jump in headfirst.
You would never walk into the gym and head right for the 50lb dumbbells if it were your first time there (or coming off an injury). Your muscles require repetition in order to get stronger and advance to lifting heavier weights. Similarly, your brain needs to strengthen its ability to make sense of the input from the eyes, ears, and somatosensory system.
Brains need time to learn the difference between correct and error signals. Processing these signals takes repetitions. And repetitions form habits.
Repetitive aggravating head movements, body movements, and/or visually demanding stimulation are some examples of what habituation training process entails.
It may not be fun at first. Similar to waking up with sore muscles the day after a workout, habituation training can be exhausting on the brain. But the soreness signals progress.
When treating patients with BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), the first treatments we turn to are the Semont Maneuver or the Epley Maneuver — canalith repositioning maneuvers.
Basically they are maneuvers we use to physically reposition the displaced otoconia (aka crystals) into their appropriate placement within the semicircular canals in the ear. The otoconia play a vital role in the balance system, so when they’re out of place, then the body feels out of alignment.
In the span of 15 minutes (the time it takes to change bed sheets) we can cure positional vertigo! Pending a proper diagnosis, these maneuvers have an approximate success rate of 80%.
Of course, if the wrong ear or semicircular canal is diagnosed or patients try to do this on their own without a trained professional, the result can be making things worse and more uncomfortable than they were before.
Honestly, that goes for all of the treatments above. Dizziness can be a very frustrating invisible symptom to live with. And the home remedies always seem so enticing. But like trying to diet while working in a cake factory, working on your dizziness without proper help can be a futile task.
Give us a call or schedule an appointment. It’ll be the first best decision you make on your journey to a dizzy-free life.
Do you often feel dizzy? Do you think you might have vertigo? Is your lack of balance throwing off your entire life?
Well, we can help! The Dizzy & Vertigo Institute specializes in changing people’s lives by finding solutions to their dizziness symptoms.
If you’re in the LA area or can travel to LA, then that’s where our office, the Dizzy & Vertigo Institute, is located.