Many of us have had problems associated with dizziness from time to time and have not thought much about it. But when dizziness happens frequently, lasts a long time, or is severe, it definitely gets our attention and forces us to get it checked out.
BACKGROUND: To determine how common dizziness is and the personal burden it imposes on the population, a large-scale study examined 2,751 adults (aged 50+ years) using multiple measures for dizziness, hearing, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and quality of life. An alarming 60% reported some type of vertigo. Interestingly, the researchers observed an association between tinnitus and vertigo. Also, the participants with vertigo reported lower quality of life scores than those without dizziness complaints. This study highlights the significant burden imposed by dizziness/vertigo stating that this is an “important public healthcare issue” that must be studied further.
CAUSES: The most common causes include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), acute vestibular neuronitis or labyrinthitis, Meniere’s disease, migraine headaches, and anxiety disorders. Less commonly, reduced blood flow to the brain/head (“vertebrobasilar ischemia”) and retrocochlear tumors can cause dizziness. The risk also increases with age.
TREATMENT OPTIONS: Most vertigo sufferers do not require extensive testing and can be treated in the clinic. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and labyrinthitis are most often successfully managed by doctors of chiropractic with specific exercise to reposition the displaced “canaliths” or small stone-like material in the inner ear.
Treatment with a low-salt diet and diuretics (herbal options include: dandelion, ginger, parsley, hawthorn, and juniper) can also be helpful in resistant cases with fewer side effects than prescription vestibular suppressing medications. Consuming potassium-rich foods such as bananas, avocados, raisins, beans, squash, mushrooms, potatoes, yogurt, or fish is often wise when taking a diuretic. Chiropractors often provide nutritional counseling and can help guide you in this area as well.
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