Do you ever get dizzy when you turn your head? Light-headed when move too fast getting up or down? Avoid shopping at the grocery store because sometimes it makes you feel nauseated? Do you ever feel like your head is spinning but the room is staying still? Are you afraid of falling because you can’t always tell where your feet are? Do objects look blurry, but your optometrist says your eyes are fine? Do you avoid sitting in the back seat of a car in case you get sick? Does it ever sound like you are underwater or do you ever have ringing in your ears but you haven’t been anywhere with loud noises?
If you have answered YES to any of these questions it may be because of malfunctioning vestibular system. The vestibular system, otherwise known as the “balance center” in our heads, takes information from our movements, or rather where our body is in space, using our eyes, our muscles and joints, and little inner ear sensory organs and combines all that information in the brain. The brain then processes that information and reacts accordingly; either to move your body to keep you upright while the head moves, or vice versa, move your eyes to keep focused on objects, and make your muscles move your joints to where they need to be to keep gravity from taking over so you don’t fall. Here is a diagram to help you understand how these systems work together:
Brain output to the body
Normally, when the information from your eyes, your body, and your inner ear organs all match up, we are able to move our heads and bodies as we please without getting uncomfortable symptoms such as: dizziness, vertigo (room spinning), light-headedness, disorientation, blurry vision, motion sensitivity, balance loss, ringing in the ears, changes in hearing, or migraines. But when there is one component (or more) of this system that is/are not functioning correctly, the brain is going to rely more on the other senses to keep your body in balance. Sometimes that is enough to keep you functioning at a low level as you adjust your lifestyle to avoid making yourself feel symptomatic. But to do higher level activities, even including quick head turns, focusing on small letters, laying down quickly in bed, it can be too much for the brain to handle and then you get symptoms of dizziness, blurry vision, nausea, etc.
The good news is that our brains are able to learn and change how it reacts so that that even if you have suffered for a few days or many years from vertigo or dizziness you can be treated and get back to a more functional activity level. Imagine being able to take a cruise without the fear of constant nausea, or able to lie down in bed and turn over without your head spinning, or even try to watch a 3-D movie again!
If you or someone you know has had or are still suffering from vertigo, dizziness, risks of falls, etc… then you should talk to physiotherapist that works in vestibular rehabilitation. A physiotherapist can treat inner ear issues sometimes within as little as 1-2 treatments and will give you exercises to “strengthen” your brain and vestibular system so it will work at its full potential. Stop living in fear of the next time you fall, get sick, or have to avoid someplace that you want to go. Make an appointment to see a physiotherapist at One to One Wellness Center and they will help you get back on your feet, and stay there!