Category: Blog

chiropractors can help with vertigo

Chiropractors Can Help With Vertigo

Vertigo – it comes in many forms, has many causes, can be acute or chronic and affects around 35-40% of all people over the age of 40 at least once in their lifetime. Perhaps you have experienced it? Or know someone who has? It’s extremely frustrating and debilitating…and if it is chronic, it is a tough way to live your life.

When I hear about a friend or relative having an experience with vertigo, I always feel a lot of empathy for what they are going through. Sufferers often have a sense that the room is spinning, with extreme dizziness. Vertigo can be accompanied by tinnitus – or a ringing of the ear – balance issues, nausea and vomiting and headaches. Some folks can even lose their hearing over time.

I’ve known people to have a temporary experience with vertigo that thankfully subsided over time. Vertigo has various causes but many are related to the inner ear. Patients have asked me if chiropractors can help with Vertigo – and the answer is yes! But before visiting one, here’s what you should know about the condition and the treatment.

 

What Causes Vertigo

Vertigo is not a condition you can predict or expect to have happen. For many, it just shows up one day, although there are some instances when head trauma or a virus can trigger it.

 

Central vertigo occurs as the result of a disturbance in one or more parts of the brain, known as sensory nerve pathways.

 

Peripheral vertigo occurs when there is a disturbance in the balance organs of the inner ear. This is the more common cause of vertigo. Within this category of causes, there are a few main kinds:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BBPV is a condition that affects the inner ear, particularly when calcium particles or crystals clutter in the canals of the ear and the endolymph fluid can’t move them along.
  • Meniere’s disease is caused by a change in pressure in the ear plus a buildup of fluid. This can cause both vertigo and possibly hearing loss.
  • Labyrinthitis is commonly associated with having an ear infection in the structure of the ear that controls hearing and balance.
  • Vestibular neuritis is also a condition commonly associated with having an ear infection. The nerves of the inner ear become inflamed and vertigo symptoms ensue.

 

Treatments for Vertigo

For the forms of vertigo that don’t go away without treatment, there are some treatment options that do work. In fact, many forms of vertigo – and BBPV in particular – can often be cured over time when specific treatment is applied.

There has been some research on the impact of chiropractic on people suffering from vertigo symptoms, such as dizziness and lack of balance. In this study, patients did improve over time.

Primarily, we chiropractors offer three kinds of treatments that have all shown to be impactful in reducing the symptoms of vertigo.

 

Chiropractic manipulation focuses on the joints that are not moving properly. Cervicogenic vertigo, when the joints of the upper neck send the wrong signals to the brain about body position and movement, benefits the most from chiropractic manipulation. Chiropractor Don Fitz-Ritson conducted a study that had a 90 percent success rate when treating this type of vertigo with manipulation, after 18 months of treatment.

 

Positioning maneuvers is another approach that is well-known for improving vertigo symptoms. If the source of vertigo appears to be the inner ear, it may be that debris has accumulated in the balance center of the inner ear. When debris settles in the complex system of fluid-filled tubes of the inner ear, patients can end up with vertigo. By conducting positioning maneuvers, with the Epley Maneuver being one of the most recognized, a chiropractor can attempt to reposition the debris to a less problematic position within the inner ear. This maneuver works well for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV.

 

 

Finally, we can show you some exercises that are designed to break up the crystals that can lead to Vertigo. They target the vestibulocochlear system, with the Brandt-Daroff exercises being the most commonly known. Patients have to follow the steps religiously and repeat them five times in the morning, afternoon, and evening for about two weeks.

With the Brandt-Daroff approach, I have the patient sits on the edge of his/her bed and alternately lay on first one side, back upright, then the other side at one-minute intervals. While this can help with symptoms if the protocol is followed, I always warn patients that there is a risk of nausea – so folks should discontinue if that symptom becomes severe.

 

Conclusion

While vertigo can be difficult to live with and challenging to resolve, for many people it will go away within a few weeks or months. For some, this won’t happen without treatment. If you find yourself with a bout of vertigo, it’s hard to do nothing and hope it will disappear. So consider seeking help! Chiropractors can help with vertigo – and once we diagnose the cause of your vertigo, we’ve got several options for how to help you get rid of it. I hope you never have it, but I’m here if you do.

 

Dr. Sharman

heat stroke

Taking it Seriously…and Preventing Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is something most folks have heard of…but may think is not a risk for themselves. But with the summer months and heat index in full swing, it’s something everyone should know about.

We tend to think of serious athletes – marathon runners, for example – or maybe even people who work in landscaping or farming as being the kind of people susceptible to heat stroke. The reality is that the average person, in the right conditions, could suffer from heat stroke.

 

So what causes heat stroke?

Heat stroke occurs when your body can no longer regulate your core temperature. When you become overheated, those natural processes can fail and your body can’t cool itself. This is due to high temperatures, excessive physical activity or a combination of both.

Biologically, our bodies release heat by sweating. First, our blood vessels begin to swell, or dilate, causing our skin to look red. Blood then flows close to the surface of our skin so that we transfer heat from our skin into the air. As well, our muscles cause our body hair to lay down flat to further increase heat loss. Then our glands secrete sweat onto our skin in order to increase heat loss by evaporation. This process continues until our body temps return to normal.

But in heat stroke, we sweat so much that we become dehydrated. When our bodies run out of fluids to sweat and we haven’t been drinking enough water to supply more fluids, our body temperature will continue to rise. At that point, heat stroke symptoms kick in.

 

Symptoms

It’s really important to be aware of the signs of heat stroke so if you are outside in the heat and are struggling to cool down, you can get the help you need. Heat stroke typically has a few warning symptoms to let you know it’s coming. Be aware if you begin to experience any of these:

  • Fainting – also known as heat syncope occurs when your blood vessels dilate so much that it reduces blood flow to your brain. You may not completely pass out but feel dizzy, light-headed and even nauseous.
  • Muscle cramps – may occur even if you aren’t doing anything strenuous. This is also a warning sign of dehydration.
  • Heat exhaustion – is simply feeling ill from the heat…nauseous, weak, head aching, clammy and even like you may throw up. Your skin may actually become dry, due to lack of fluid for sweating. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can easily advance to heat stroke.

Full-on heat stroke is a serious medical emergency. It can lead to brain damage, organ failure and even death, if untreated. Aside from the warning signs previously mentioned, sufferers of heat stroke may experience confusion/delirium. Their urine turns a dark-brown color. They may have a seizure. They may have shallow breathing.

 

Prevention

The obvious solution, once you start experiencing the warning symptoms, is to get out of the heat. As well, you’ll need to get access to water quickly. Before you begin any activities outdoors, you should know if you have any risk factors that make you more prone to heat stroke.

But in general, heat stroke is preventable…in many very commonsense ways.

For starters, drink plenty of water – not just during your activity but the day before. Hydrating your body well in advance is half the battle. You can also eat more hydrating foods, such as watermelon, tomatoes, and avocados as a means of getting more water into your body. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they have a tendency to dehydrate the body.

If you can avoid direct sunlight, you should. Limit your outdoor time on particularly hot days to the hours when the sun is less severe. Get into the shade to take breaks from the sun and heat. Use an umbrella for protection. And make sure the clothing you wear is lightweight but can provide some protection from the bright sun.

Know your medications. Some medications may affect your ability to deal with higher temperatures. Antibiotics are one such example. So are antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihistamines, laxatives, diuretics and medications for heart disease, blood pressure, cholesterol and seizures. Talk to your physician if you take any of these medications and learn what your risks may be.

Get cool. On some days, you will just need to avoid the heat altogether and stay indoors with good air conditioning (fans may not be enough). If you must be outdoors, take breaks and get into an air-conditioned space to allow your body time to cool down. You may even want to take a quick, cool shower or get cool cloths and apply them to your neck during your breaks.

RELATED: Is the Farmers’ Market Really That Good for You?

 

Final thoughts

Please watch out for others in your life – especially the elderly – who may be susceptible to heat stroke. If you’re with someone who is displaying heat stroke symptoms, call 911 immediately. Then move the person to a cool place, apply cool compresses and wait for the medical professionals to arrive.

Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency. Immediate treatment is vital. So be aware this summer for your own sake and for those you love.

Dr. Sharman