To understand what a vestibular disorder is, you first must understand the vestibular system. This is the part of the body within the inner ear and brain which helps with coordination, balance, and movement of the eye.
These play a crucial role in senses and impact a person’s day-to-day. It is an intelligent system within the body that has various sensory areas that work together to ensure you can maintain balance.
These sensory areas that help you maintain balance include:
- Muscles: Strong muscles and joints are a crucial part in balance. Not only do they receive signals for balance, but also provide the strength for day-to-day tasks.
- Eyes: Sensory allows the eyes to understand and visualize depth using rods and cones. They factor in light and other elements to make this determination.
- Inner ear: Through air, fluid, direction and more, the elements within the inner ear work together to maintain balance and posture.
Once the inner ear components are damaged or vestibular disorder forms, a person may be diagnosed. They can be triggered due to an injury, genetics, disease, and aging.
Even the smallest of issues can make a huge difference in the way a person feels, walks, moves, and more. However, despite having balance system disorders, relief is possible. It is just important to remember that people with a vestibular disorder may suffer from a variety of symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Lack of coordination: One of the tell-tale signs of a vestibular disorder stems from poor coordination. When the body cannot receive the right signals, a person can become dizzy, fall over or experience vertigo. Vertigo is when a person feels as they are spinning or moving when they are not doing either.
- Nausea: When the body feels off balance, or there are issues within the ear, a person may feel nauseated and at one time, can include vomiting too.
- Unable to focus: Having a vestibular disorder can make it harder for a person to focus and concentrate on a specific task.
Dizziness and vertigo are the two top symptoms of a vestibular disorder.
They can be extremely detrimental to a person’s day-to-day, which is nearly half of all those who suffer. Upon having a vestibular disorder can lead to additional negative health issues. Or, certain disorders and conditions could lead to a vestibular disorder.
- Tinnitus: Also known as “ringing in the ears,” you may experience a ringing or buzzing notice due to this issue.
- Meniere’s Disease: Similar to and often mistaken for tinnitus, Meniere’s Disease creates pressure within the ears, making it difficult to hear. It also creates a ringing noise.
- Acoustic neuroma: A tumor within the inner ear can cause inability to hear properly, cause a person to be dizzy, nauseated and unable to fully control their balance.
- Postural hypotension: A person can become dizzy, weak or tired if they have a vestibular disorder. In extreme cases, a person can pass out.
While a person may experience both dizziness and vertigo, each of these two symptoms are different.
- Dizziness: When a person is dizzy, they will feel off balance and faint. A person that is dizzy may also feel lightheaded, which can be confused for vertigo as you may feel as though your head is moving. For other people, when undergoing a dizzy spell, a person may feel as though they are floating. Many people can cope with dizziness each day. It is also important to remember that high blood circulation or poor circulation can cause a person to be lightheaded or dizzy—which is why it is important to get a yearly wellness exam. However, if you also experience vomiting, slurred speech, chest pain, fever, seizures and other serious, out-of-the-norm issues, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
- Vertigo: A person will experience a spinning feeling if they are suffering from vertigo. You could be sitting and feel as though everything around you is moving. This movement can be circular or tilted. Similar to dizziness, those with vertigo can experience headaches, vomiting due to motion sickness, involuntary eye movements, and tinnitus.
Ways to Manage Dizziness and Vertigo
If you experience symptoms of a vestibular disorder, it is important to know there are different ways to manage this condition. First can be medication. Your doctor can provide medication such as an antihistamine. There are also pain relievers, antibiotics or steroids that can reduce symptoms. Next, moving slower is a simple solution you can do on your own to keep the dizzy feeling from going to extremes. If you suffer from dizziness or vertigo, you may want to have rails installed in your home to give added support. You can also invest in a cane to help as well. When eating foods, it is noted that ginger root, gingko, cayenne pepper, and turmeric can be helpful for relief. Last, physical therapy can also help with vestibular disorders.
What is vestibular physical therapy? Your local physical therapist will work with you to develop exercises that will reduce dizziness, vertigo and falls, increase strength for movement, improve posture, and much more.