In a spin

In A Spin

Who loves the thrill of the rides at the Show? Travelling to the Gold Coast a few years ago and visiting the theme parks with my family, I was amazed at the queues of people wanting to pay good money to experience a few minutes of mind numbing terror, as the Superman ride ejected them out into the open air, only to plummet vertically towards the ground. All this after consuming hotdogs and soft drink. Although I passed on this ride, my family did get a good laugh as I screamed hysterically on the Scooby Doo Roller Coaster ride. Even I had a feel of exhilaration that comes from the injection of adrenaline from being flung up and down after we made our way out from the ride.

Imagine however, experiencing that on a daily basis just by rolling over in bed, or getting up from bending over in the garden. The novelty would surely wear off very quickly. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common inner ear disorder that may be the cause of repeated dizziness. Caused by small particles of calcium carbonate that are thought to move from one chamber of the inner ear (the utricle) to another (one of the semicircular canals), or that may form abnormally in the canal, the  sensations of spinning, falling or motion can be quite violent but usually short lived (less than a minute). At rest the particles sit happily in their new position, but with certain movements of the head, the fluid in the canal picks up the particles, causing abnormal signals from the delicate nerve structures to create the sensation of vertigo.

Whilst not a dangerous condition, it can vary from a mild condition that is annoying but largely controlled by unconsciously slowing the movement of the head, to a severe disability that in one case I have seen, limited the patient from leaving their home for twenty years due to fear of an attack whilst out. Many people who experience long term BPPV also experience neck stiffness and pain due to holding their head in limited positions to minimise the vertigo. Luckily in most cases, it can be treated very successfully by a simple repositioning manoeuvre, called the Epley’s manoeuvre to shift the particles. This can be performed by a specially trained vestibular  physiotherapist or doctor once correctly diagnosed. Often followed up with a simple exercise, most cases can be treated in one or two sessions.

Because other conditions such as high or low blood pressure, or other medical problems may also cause dizziness, it is important to see a medical doctor to determine if BPPV is the cause if there is any doubt. Vestibular physiotherapists work with Ear Nose and Throat specialists and Neurologists. Treatment for inner ear disorders may not have you lining up at the local Country Show to try out the latest ride, but may have you back jumping out of bed in the morning without the fear of falling out of control.