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3 Treatment Strategies For Vertigo

by Oona Laine

Vertigo is a serious sensation of spinning that is distinct from the feeling of dizziness. In many cases, repeated episodes of vertigo are associated with inner ear problems, such as damage, congenital abnormalities, or recurrent infections. There are ways to minimize or eliminate recurrent vertigo.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is a non-invasive option to help desensitize yourself to certain movements that may initiate a vertigo episode. For example, many people who experience vertigo cannot lie in certain positions or find vertigo can happen when they turn their head too quickly. VRT is customized based on your needs. Understandably, VRT can be intimidating because you must overcome the fear of facilitating an episode of vertigo in order to improve the problem. Ideally, with repeated VRT exercises, your vertigo episodes will occur less often or resolve completely. Once you have been assigned specific exercises to perform, you must continue your therapy at home, often several times each day.

Medications

Meclizine is a medication used to help manage vertigo. Depending on how often you experience problems, you may need to take the medication regularly or simply have medication available once the problem starts. It can be difficult to take medications to prevent vertigo, because you can become tolerant to the effects of the medication, making it ineffective when a vertigo episode occurs. You should also have anti-nausea medications readily available. Vertigo episodes can bring on nausea and vomiting, and it is essential to gain control over these symptoms quickly. Orally-dissolving ondansetron is one type of anti-nausea medication. The orally-dissolving formulation allows a quicker onset of relief than taking pills and is better tolerated if you have started vomiting.

Surgical Options

Surgery is rarely used to alleviate vertigo unless the problem cannot be managed with therapy and medications. The surgical options can depend on the problem. If vertigo is attributed to multiple ear infections, surgery may be performed to reduce the recurrence of infections by facilitating drainage of fluid from the ear. Once future episodes of ear infections are under control, other non-invasive treatments for vertigo might be more effective.

For people with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) that is unresponsive to other treatments, one option is posterior semicircular canal occlusion. The posterior semicircular canal is part of the inner ear that is responsible for transmitting information to the brain about head positioning. A simple surgical procedure is used to obstruct this portion of the ear. In most people who have the surgery, changes in position no longer initiate episodes of vertigo.

For people with recurrent vertigo episodes, the condition can become debilitating. There are several treatment methods to reduce or eliminate episodes of vertigo and improve quality of life. For more information, contact a local ENT doctor. 

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