What are the causes of Dizziness? episode 096
October 16, 2017
Have you ever experienced vertigo? What are the causes of dizziness?
Dr. Kimberley Bell, DPT has been a Physical Therapist for nearly 15 years, and she specializes in helping people with dizziness. She assesses and treats vertigo, dizziness, and imbalance in people of all ages. She also helps with other issues thought to be related to aging as well.
I brought her on the show to talk about the causes of dizziness, and also some potential treatments that can help.
What is Balance?
You might have heard of the five senses. These five senses are hearing, taste, sight, smell, and touch. But there is another sense that we don't talk about. That is the sense of balance. Without it, you wouldn't be able to sit or stand upright because you wouldn't be able to tell which way “up” was. And you couldn't tell where “here or “there” was. Without a sense of balance, gravity, wouldn't mean anything. It would be fair to say that without any sense of balance, life would be unimaginably disabling.1
Dr. Bell was a wealth of information, especially if you know someone, or you are personally experiences vertigo, equilibrium problems, or the like.
She told a story of a client who had experienced vertigo since she was 56 years old. This person had CT scans, MRIs, and cardiac testing to try to find the causes of dizziness.
Dr. Bell did an assessment and found crystals in her inner ear. BPPV, or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, occurs when a patient has crystals in her inner ear. It's the most common cause of vertigo, which is that feeling of spinning that some people get.
This feeling is not life-threatening (unless you fall and hit your head!). It comes on suddenly and is usually brief. You can trigger BPPV when you hold your head a certain way or move your head a certain way. And of course, its a type of vertigo, or a false sense of movement.
Oh, and by the way, it can sometimes be cured by the right therapist. As a matter of fact, Dr. Bell was able to solve her patient's problem (in the story above) in just a few visits.
Why can't my doctor find what my causes of dizziness are?
Many physicians don't know how to diagnose it, and they are also not trained in how to solve the problem. Many don't know the causes of dizziness in their patients.
The difficulty of making the right vestibular diagnosis is reflected in the fact that in some populations, more than one-third of the patients with a vestibular disease consult more than one physician – in some cases up to more than fifteen.2
Not only that but one recent large epidemiological study estimates that as many as 35% of adults aged 40 years or older in the United States—approximately 69 million Americans—have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction 3
Dr. Bell shares a story in her blog:
Since February 21, the medical care that I have personally received has caused me to experience vertigo anytime I chew solid food. This was never a problem before.
Obviously, I’m not still working with that healthcare provider whose treatment worsened my symptoms, but recovering from the harmful results of the care that I received has taken me now over six weeks. My symptoms have been so bad that my husband has taken off work one or two days every week in order to take care of me.
If I didn’t have him, I’m sure I would’ve had to hire a caregiver by now! I’ve been living with mild to severe vertigo off and on since I was five years old, after my first childhood concussion.4
Dr. Bell shares a lot of information in the episode.