More than dizziness: vertigo could be to blame

Have you ever leaned down to pick something up, only to feel a wave of dizziness?  Or, maybe you have turned your head too quickly, then felt like the room was spinning. This could be a sign of vertigo and it is something that can be treated with gravity.

Karen Lambert does not sugarcoat the feelings she has had over the past few weeks.  "It was horrible," she said, "just very dizzy, room was spinning.  I had become very nauseous, couldn't really get up."

This marketing director at West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital is very familiar with red flags for health. She had experienced the dizziness before with sinus infections and washing her house, but this go-round it was too bad to avoid.  "I was looking for some type of relief, somehow, and it didn't matter what I had to do," she said, "I would put on goggles and go to the moon!"

Audiologist Dr. Jake Cavanaugh with Hearing Solutions of Louisiana treats people with a dizzy or spinning sensation, because oftentimes, it is linked to what is inside the ear.  "The inner ear not only houses the organ of hearing, but the organ of balance," said Dr. Cavanaugh.

In that balance system, there are tiny crystals that can get out of place, causing spinning or dizziness.  In Karen's case, it is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV.

The treatment for BPPV is a repositioning maneuver, using gravity and specific head movements to reposition the displaced crystals.  "We lean the patient back, we find where the actual anatomy is and then use the repositioning technique to get the anatomy back in place," said Dr. Cavanaugh.

After one of the repositioning treatments, a patient will be told to be very careful about their head movements for a period of 48 hours. That is so they do not undo anything that was done during the repositioning.  "We will tell a patient to walk around like you have a book on your head, no sudden head movements. This will ensure that the anatomy over the next 48 hours will get back into place as it belongs," said Dr. Cavanaugh.

Karen is two weeks away from getting the 10-minute repositioning maneuver that she expects to return her to a normal routine - one that has been a bit disoriented lately!  "I will be very excited to know that before any sinus infection or before me participating in any activity - I'll be able to experience it like a normal individual who didn't have this issue," she said.

Most patients that have BPPV will experience it at least once more in their lifetime, but by being aware of it, you can treat it early on with repositioning.

Sometimes the crystals will go back in place on their own, but other times an audiologist will need to intervene.

Copyright KPLC 2012.  All rights reserved.