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Symptoms of Vestibular Dysfunction

The most commonly reported symptoms of vestibular dysfunction are dizziness and vertigo. Dizziness is a broad term than includes many difference types of sensations, such as light-headedness, floating, or rocking.  Vertigo, a specific type of dizziness, is the perception of movement and usually feels like your head is spinning. When dizziness and vertigo are caused by the vestibular system, they are usually worsened with head movements or changes in body position such as turning your head, lying down or rolling over in bed.

Other common symptoms include:

  • feeling imbalanced or unsteady
  • having blurry or bouncy vision
  • feeling nauseous or vomiting
  • change in hearing (ringing in the ear(s), sensation of fullness, or loss of hearing)
  • feeling anxious
  • lacking coordination
  • having memory or concentration issues

Which vestibular condition is most common?

One of the most common vestibular condition is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). 2.4% of people will experience BPPV at some point in their lifetime. This risk is higher in females as well as individuals with vitamin D deficiency, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, migraines, and head trauma. Individuals with BPPV experience brief periods of vertigo (spinning), usually lasting up to one minute, usually triggered by looking up or down, getting in or out of bed, and rolling in bed. This may be accompanied with nausea or vomiting, feeling unsteady, and nystagmus (quick rhythmic eye movement).

What causes BPPV?

BPPV is caused when small crystals (otoconia) float into different parts of the vestibular system where they don’t belong. As a result, the treatment involves a sequence of head positions to move the crystals back home (e.g. the Epley maneuver). Although BPPV can be extremely unpleasant, it is usually simple to treat. Only one treatment is often enough when completed by an experienced therapist!

What should I do if I’m experiencing dizziness or vertigo?

Talk to your family physician or nurse practitioner. If they feel vestibular therapy can help, please reach out to us! We’d love to answer your questions.

This service is offered by our Certified Vestibular Therapist Nina Bai.