If you’ve ever experienced a feeling of spinning, you’ve experienced vertigo. Vertigo can have a number of underlying causes and can interfere with everyday life. At NYHD: Institute for Hearing and Balance, our Doctors of Audiology are specialists in the assessment and often the treatment of vestibular disorders. We can look at the possible causes and recommend the right course of management for you.
As vestibular audiologists, we know that balance is integral to a happy, healthy life where you’re independent and averse to injury. That’s why we recommend the latest in treatments for balance concerns after performing a comprehensive assessment.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is often described as a mechanical problem in the inner-ear. Normally, the utricle in your inner ear houses tiny calcium carbonate crystals (otoliths)
that are embedded in gel. BPPV occurs when one of the otoliths dislodge from the gelatinous part and migrate into one of the semicircular canals (typically the posterior canal), where they are not supposed to be. Ultimately, when you move in certain positions or turn your head, these rogue crystals shift and interfere with normal fluid movement in the canals. This causes the inner ear to send false signals of movement to the brain, resulting in a feeling of spinning.
BPPV can be difficult to live with if untreated because it can affect your ability to move, respond, and sometimes even get out of bed. It is important to be assessed by a professional because BPPV can be caused by head injuries, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and migraines, all of which can be significantly impactful to your overall health. Additionally, BPPV can reoccur over time even if it goes away on its own, meaning it can be helpful to have the tools and information provided by our Doctors of Audiology. This can help prevent falls or injuries because of BPPV.
BPPV treatment begins with some quick and easy tests to determine what parts of your ears might be causing the spinning sensation. We assess this by performing a test called the Dix-Hallpike maneuver. This means that you sit on an examination table with your legs stretched out. You’ll then turn your head to about 45 degrees while the audiologist helps you quickly lay down. This maneuver often triggers BPPV and, if you experience it, your eyes will make certain movements that we can observe. Our audiologists can usually judge which part of the inner ear might be affected by BPPV from this so that we can target your treatment accordingly.
Treatment for BPPV can include a couple of clinically-accepted maneuvers performed in our private office, including the Semont Liberatory maneuver, Gans Repositioning maneuver, and the Epley-Herdman maneuver. These maneuvers restore the calcium carbonate crystals in the ear to its original space. In some cases, improving your Vitamin D levels can help manage your symptoms and your body’s ability to process calcium. We can also refer you to a physical therapist if we believe it will help. One type of therapy, called vestibular rehabilitation, can be an effective option to include and we can refer you to the right specialist. It’s important to know that these are not permanent cures and that you may need ongoing treatment to manage your symptoms. Your audiologist can recommend the best options for you during your appointment.
BPPV can be difficult to live with, but our audiologists can help assess your symptoms, causes, and provide treatment and management options. Using these steps, we can make sure you have the tools you need to live a happy, healthy lifestyle without worrying about dizziness. To schedule an appointment with our Doctors of Audiology, contact our New York City office by calling (212) 774-1971 or filling out our online form.