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What is Vertigo?

Posted by Eqphysio on 13 July 2018
What is Vertigo?

Did you know 80% of people aged 65 and over have experienced vertigo?

Vertigo is a type of dizziness that is often described as a feeling that you are spinning or that the world is spinning around you. Vertigo is a symptom of several different conditions, rather than a disease in itself. Most cases of vertigo are due to a problem with your inner ear.


3 Most common causes of vertigo

1. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

This is the most common cause of vertigo. It occurs when small calcium crystals break free and float into the tubes of your inner ear called the semicircular canals. Vertigo resulting from BPPV usually lasts anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Vertigo is brought on by certain head or body movements such as getting in and out of bed, looking down or up, or rolling over in bed. There may also be complaints of blurred vision, light-headedness, nausea and vomiting.


2. Neuritis and Labyrinthitis

Neuritis and labyrinthitis occur as a result of inflammation and irritation of the inner ear and its nerve, most commonly due to an inner ear virus.  They are characterized by sudden onset of constant vertigo. Labyrinthitis usually presents with hearing loss as well. Many people will recover from neuritis or labyrinthitis over a couple of weeks, without any need for treatment. However, some people will continue to have symptoms such as dizziness and unsteadiness when moving or turning quickly. They may also have difficulty tolerating busy environments, for example, the shopping centre or supermarket, or complain of visual blurring

3. Meniere's Disease

This disease is caused by excess fluid build-up in your inner ear. People with Meniere's disease often have vertigo episodes that are sudden and intense that last for several hours at a time. They may also complain of fullness/heaviness in the ear, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hearing changes.


How can physiotherapists help?

Depending on the cause of the vertigo, a vestibular physiotherapist will use different interventions.


In cases of BPPV, therapists can use particle repositioning manoeuvres (PRM) or specific exercises to move the crystals back to their normal location. BPPV is diagnosed by the presence of characteristic vertigo and nystagmus (rapid involuntary eye movement) when the person is rapidly moved from sitting to lying (i.e. Dix-Hallpike). There is an 80% chance of complete resolution of BPPV following one PRM.





As the virus affects the inner ear and its nerve, the sensory input from the affected ear will be reduced.  The brain usually receives information from both inner ears that is equal and opposite.  When one side is compromised we call this a vestibulopathy.
Vestibular physiotherapy aims to promote the brain's ability to compensate for the reduced sensory input from the affected ear. Compensation takes time, weeks and months rather than just one treatment. This can be done through:

  • Gaze stability exercises


  • Habituation exercises

  • Balance and gait retraining




Meniere's Disease

Acute attacks of Meniere's disease will require medical intervention for management, and most of the time people with Meniere's will have no symptoms in between attacks. However, in some cases with repetitive attacks, people may develop imbalance and dizziness with head movements between attacks, which will respond to vestibular physiotherapy in the same manner as those with a vestibulopathy.


If we can help you with any of your vertigo symptoms, please feel free to contact us:


Phone: 9553 8145

Or if you're in the area, drop on by and have a chat with us to see if we can help in any way. We're located at 1/45 Montgomery St, Kogarah NSW 2217.


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Getting your body back into balance

Vestibular Rehabilitation

Our physiotherapists are trained to recognise, assess and treat patients that are suffering from vertigo from a vestibular origin such as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuronitis/labyrinthitis and following acoustic neuroma resection.

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