Vertigo and Acupuncture
Vertigo is a type of dizziness felt as a false sensation of movement. People usually feel that they, their environment, or both are spinning. This may be associated with nausea, vomiting, sweating, or difficulties walking. It is typically worse when the head is moved. Vertigo is the most common type of dizziness. The most common disorders that result in vertigo are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Ménière's disease, labyrinthitis, and vestibular migraine headache.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is more likely in someone who gets repeated episodes of vertigo with movement and is otherwise normal between these episodes. The episodes of vertigo should last less than one minute.
In Ménière's disease, there is often ringing in the ears, hearing loss, and the attacks of vertigo last more than twenty minutes.
In labyrinthitis the onset of vertigo is sudden and there is a characteristic beating of the eye to one side, known as nystagmus, which occurs without movement of the head. In this condition, vertigo can last for days.
Vestibular migraine headache is increasingly recognized as a common cause of dizziness with vertigo. This type of migraine most often occurs in people who have a history or family history of migraines. They may have other migraine-like symptoms, such as seeing flashing lights, having temporary blind spots, or being very sensitive to light and sound.
Dizziness affects approximately 20–40% of people at some point in their life. It becomes more common with age and affects women two to three times more often than men. Dizziness may be temporary or chronic. Dizziness is considered chronic if it lasts more than a month. Chronic dizziness is more common among older people.
What causes vertigo?
Vertigo is usually caused by disorders of the parts of the ear and brain that are involved in maintaining balance:
Brain stem and cerebellum
Nerve tracts connecting the inner ear to the brain stem and cerebellum
The inner ear contains structures that enable the body to sense position and motion. Information from these structures is sent to the brain through the 8th cranial nerve (vestibulocochlear nerve), which is also involved in hearing. This information is processed in the brain stem, which adjusts posture, and the cerebellum, which coordinates movements, to provide a sense of balance. A disorder in any of these structures can cause vertigo.
Treatments for Vertigo
The cause of dizziness is treated whenever possible. Treatment includes stopping or reducing the dose of any drug that is the cause or switching to an alternative drug. Vertigo caused by disorders of the inner ear, such as Meniere disease, labyrinthitis, migraine-associated vertigo can often be relieved by benzodiazepine drugs such as diazepam or lorazepam. Antihistamine drugs such as meclizine are an alternative.
When you start to feel dizzy, lying down as soon as possible can often help. If you have a severe case of vertigo, close your eyes while lying down. If you’re overheated, get a cool drink and move to a shaded, air-conditioned area.
Epley maneuver is an exercise you can do at home to help treat dizziness, especially from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It’s designed to dislodge crystals from the ear canals and reduce dizziness. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Epley maneuver involves the following steps:
Sit on a bed and turn your head halfway to the right.
Lie down on your back while keeping your head turned. A pillow should be under your shoulders only, with your head reclining.
Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Turn your head without raising it so it’s looking halfway to the left. Wait another 30 seconds.
Keeping your head turned, turn your body to the left so that you’re lying on your side. Wait 30 seconds.
Sit up on your left side.
Acupuncture has been used for the alleviation of dizziness and vertigo for over a thousand years. It is safe and effective for the treatment of dizziness and vertigo.
According to Chinese medicine, there are a variety of etiological factors leading to dizziness and vertigo. Emotional depression or anger can damage liver yin and result in the ascendancy of liver yang. Extended illness, stress, anxiety, pensiveness or a weak heart and spleen can cause vacuity of qi and blood. Improper diet and eating habits, stress and taxation can damage the spleen and stomach. These conditions can be treated effectively by acupuncture.
At Gathered Roots, we customize a treatment plan for your dizziness according to your diagnosis. It usually takes 2-3 sessions until you feel better and you need at least 10-12 sessions to alleviate symptoms, which is considered as one course of treatment. Talk to one of our licensed acupuncturists to learn more.