Dizziness Or Vertigo?
What Is The Difference Between Vertigo And Dizziness?
Vertigo and dizziness are symptoms rather than disease. They do differ subtly, with dizziness a potential sign of someone suffering from vertigo. People often use the word “dizziness” when they are talking about a variety of symptoms, including:
- Vertigo (a feeling of spinning or whirling when you are not moving).
- Unsteadiness (a sense of imbalance or staggering when standing or walking).
- Lightheadedness or feeling as if you are about to faint (presyncope). It may mean there is a heart problem or low blood pressure, so please investigate further.
- Dizziness is caused by breathing too rapidly (hyperventilation) or anxiety.
What Causes Vertigo?
Vertigo refers to the sensation of spinning or whirling that occurs due to a disturbance in your balance (vestibular) system. Vertigo may be used to describe feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness, and unsteadiness.
The sensation of movement is called subjective vertigo, and the perception of motion in surrounding objects is called objective vertigo.
Vertigo usually occurs due to a disorder in the vestibular system (structures of the inner ear, the vestibular nerve, brainstem, and cerebellum). Your vestibular system is responsible for integrating sensory stimuli and movement and keeping objects in visual focus as the body moves.
When your head moves, signals are transmitted to the labyrinth, an apparatus in the inner ear made up of three semicircular canals surrounded by fluid. The labyrinth then transmits movement information to the vestibular nerve. The vestibular nerve carries the information to the brainstem and cerebellum (areas of the brain that control balance, posture, and motor coordination).
The good news is that vertigo exercises will ease most vertigo symptoms.
For more information, please ask one of our physiotherapists who have a particular interest in vestibular physiotherapy.
What Causes Dizziness?
Other common causes include inflammation in the inner ear, Meniere’s disease, cervicogenic dizziness, vestibular neuritis, vestibular migraine and acoustic neuroma. Rarely, vertigo can be a symptom of a more serious neurological problem such as a stroke or brain haemorrhage, which is why you should investigate what is causing your vertigo or dizziness.
We urge you to seek the advice of your health professional. For more information, please ask one of our physiotherapists who have a particular interest in vestibular physiotherapy.
Find out more about Vestibular Physiotherapy.
Article by John Miller
The symptoms of BPPV can include:
- Sudden episodes of violent vertigo.
- Dizziness and/or nausea.
- Movements of your head trigger vertigo.
- Your vertigo may last half a minute or more.
- Your eyes may drift and flick uncontrollably (nystagmus).
What Causes BPPV?
Inside your inner ear, there is a series of canals filled with fluid. These vestibular canals are at different angles. When your head is moved, the liquid rolling inside these vestibular canals tells the brain exactly how far, how fast and in what direction your head is moving.
BPPV is caused by little ‘ear rocks’ or otoconia (calcium carbonate crystals) within the vestibular canals.
Usually, these crystals are held in unique reservoirs within other inner ear structures (saccule and utricle). It is thought that injury or degeneration of the utricle may allow the ‘ear rocks’ to dislodge and escape into the balance organ and interfere with your vestibular system.
What Causes Your ‘Ear Rocks’ to Dislodge?
Factors that may cause or allow ‘ear rocks’ to migrate into your vestibular canals include:
- Head or ear injury.
- Ear surgery or ear infection, such as otitis media.
- Degeneration of the inner ear structures.
- Vestibular neuritis (viral infection of the inner ear).
- Meniere’s disease (a disorder of the inner ear).
- Some types of minor strokes.
In around half of BPPV cases, you can’t find the cause of your BPPV. This is known as idiopathic BPPV.
How is BPPV Diagnosed?
Dizziness and vertigo are common to many medical conditions, so careful differential diagnoses are essential. Your physiotherapist or doctor may use several tests to diagnose BPPV.
What is the Treatment for BPPV?
‘Ear Rock’ Relocation Techniques
After assessing you and confirming BPPV, your BPPV trained physiotherapist will apply specific techniques to relocate the "ear rocks" to an area in the inner ear that doesn't stimulate your feelings of dizziness or vertigo.
How Successful is BPPV Treatment?
When BPPV techniques are performed correctly, reducing your vertigo, dizziness, and other symptoms of BPPV is immediate in 80% or more of cases. Quality BPPV practitioners have a 90%+ success rate within three applications of the techniques.
Other BPPV Treatment Options?
Due to BPPV being caused by the physical presence of ear rocks within your vestibular canal, only the relocation of these ear rocks will clear your symptoms. You may find some drugs that can help you mask your BPPV symptoms by diminishing your sensitivity to your vestibular symptoms. They work similarly to seasickness medications. Would you please discuss this medicated option with your doctor?
Who Performs BPPV Treatment?
Some vestibular physiotherapists and doctors are trained in the assessment and treatment of BPPV. BPPV-trained physiotherapists undertake specific training to diagnose and successfully treat BPPV. PhysioWorks has several BPPV trained physiotherapists. Would you please call them to book your appointment with a BPPV physiotherapist?
Physiotherapy Private Health Insurance Rebates
PhysioWorks Physiotherapy and Remedial Massage are more affordable than you think. Your Private Health Insurance (PHI) usually pays for most of your treatment fees, leaving you with only a small gap payment.
However, Private Health Funds vary their rebates payable depending upon the level of cover you have taken. Some funds have kept up with the costs of modern medicine whereas, sadly, others haven't, with rebates similar to what they were a decade ago.
HICAPS - Instant Health Fund Claims
Most health funds are members of the HICAPS instant claims system. Swipe your health insurance card at our reception counter, and you can instantly claim your physiotherapy treatment via our online Hicaps System. Remedial Massage is claimable via Hicaps for some but not all funds. Please visit Hicaps for the latest funds for more information, which can use their instant claiming system.
Private health insurance rebates are available for all of our physiotherapists. Instant claims are possible via our in-practice Hicaps system.
- All Private Health Insurance Funds including BUPA, Medibank Private, HCF
- For a complete list of Hicaps instant claim funds, see here: Hicaps Funds
- HCF More for Muscles Program
PhysioWorks practitioners are registered providers for government, Workcover and insurance companies, including:
- Australia Post; Coles Myer; Woolworths
- Department of Veterans' Affairs
- CTP & Sports Insurers
The internet is full of potentially unreliable information. Please source trusted healthcare information from reputable websites such as the following.