Thorough research and statistics showed that around 40 percent of people over 40 years would most likely get to experience vertigo sometimes during their life. The unpleasant and unsettling feeling of dizziness and loss of balance out of nowhere is an experience many faces on, not knowing what causes it and if it’s something they should be worried about.
It’s a condition that can disturb your life in many ways, by catching you off guard when you least expect it, and it can even disrupt your sleep. It’s almost always scary, and you will probably feel nausea or start having a panic attack because you were fine just a moment ago, and you just don’t know what’s happening. Given this is quite an unknown term for most of the people, we decided to get you informed and prepared for such a thing. So let’s start with explaining what vertigo is, and how it can affect your sleep.
What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a sudden sensation of dizziness that comes unexpectedly. When it comes to the next most important question – how long does vertigo last, the answer is terrifying. It can last just a couple of minutes or a couple of days, in some cases. It’s actually a quite unique feeling of not being able to come to your senses no matter how much you try. It can be accompanied by a feeling of being off-balanced like the whole room is spinning around you. The other signs of vertigo are nausea, headache, sweating, and vomiting.
It’s important to remember vertigo isn’t the disease, but a symptom of many conditions. They say that it’s not life-threatening per se, but having in mind you may set off by it while you are driving, walking, or operating heavy machinery, it may be the cause of some serious injuries.
What Causes Vertigo?
Although many people believe vertigo implies the sensations of dizziness caused by a fear of heights, the truth is it’s triggered by the problem in your inner ear. This part of your body is making you obtaining the balance, so if some kind of infection or head trauma disrupts its normal functions, this unpleasant experience can be the result.
There are three most common conditions that cause vertigo, which we are going to address properly. But there are also some others, less likely reasons that could lead to these symptoms – a stroke, migraine headaches, heart arrhythmias, blood pressure disorders, or usage of some medications. And if you are wondering can stress causes vertigo, the answer is no, but it can trigger it, just like depression and anxiety.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
The majority of vertigo cases, around 80 percent, are caused by this type of condition, although BPPV affects only two percent of people overall. These individuals are suffering from the development of small calcium deposits in their inner ear canals. They are also called calcium crystals, inner ear rocks, or canaliths.
This disease is another reason you may experience what does vertigo feels like. It’s caused by a pressure change in the inner ear, because of the built-up fluids. It usually affects people who are between 20 and 50 years old, and it most likely will lead to permanent hearing loss.
Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis
Labyrinthitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation in the nerves that are placed around the inner ear. It’s usually followed by a flu or cold, but it can be triggered by allergies, head injuries, bacterial infections, tumors, alcohol abuse, or consuming the high dose of aspirin.
What Are the Symptoms of Vertigo?
The first thing you will notice is the feeling of light spinning and tilting, and then you will notice you cannot hold the balance. You may even experience some swaying and some kind of leaning to the left or right. It will be quite disturbing since you will not be able to „sober up“, but it should pass in a couple of minutes. The unfortunate ones, however, may continue to feel this way longer than that.
Besides this main symptom that’s mostly based on losing the balance, vertigo may lead to nausea, extensive vomiting, as well as some strange twitchy movements of the eyes. You could start sweating, having a headache, or weird buzzing in your ears. Overall, it will feel like you are about to lose consciousness, so it may be scary, especially if you are facing vertigo for the first time.
Treatment for Vertigo
You are going to be very pleased to hear that vertigo can disappear on its own, the symptoms may never repeat again. That’s because our bodies have the ability to self-heal to a certain point. They aspire to be in a state of equilibrium or homeostasis. There are even cases when the body adapts to the new circumstances and rely on other senses to maintain balance if the inner ear is experiencing some problems. That case, too, vertigo could go away.
But, if that doesn’t happen, if you continue to have these terrible sensations, then it’s probably time to address it the proper way and see the doctor. There are a couple of things you can try when it comes to the treatment, and you should probably start with the less invasive ones like physical therapy or medications. But if that doesn’t work, there is also a surgical procedure.
1. Vestibular Rehabilitation
If you liked the idea of training the other senses so they could take over being in charge when it comes to providing the perfect balance, you are going to be very pleased to hear there is a program of physical therapy for this sort of thing. Vestibular rehabilitation can make your vertigo symptoms less frequent or toned down by building up the rest of the senses. It’s actually the way of adjusting your body to the vertigo seizures, and it’s entirely possible to improve your balance and reduce dizziness this way.
2. Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers
The American Academy of Neurology found a way of helping those who are suffering from BPPV. They created guidelines for removing the extensive calcium deposits build up in the inner ear. The idea is to exercise a series of head movements in order to move the calcium stones out from the canal and into the ear chamber where they can be absorbed. The tricky part is that the process itself can lead to vertigo, but if you make it, this dizzy nightmare will be over. This maneuver is safe, but it needs to be guided by the professional – doctor or therapist.
Most types of vertigo cannot be cured with medications, but there are those based on an infection that can be resolved. You can use steroids or antibiotics to make the irritation or swelling that may be at the core of the problem go away. Also, people who are suffering from Meniere’s disease can be relieved from build-up fluids by diuretics. That way, the pressure will be relieved from the ear, and the symptoms of vertigo will disappear.
If you are trying to figure out how to get rid of dizziness or how to cure vertigo permanently, here is another solution. Assuming that none of the previously mentioned treatments aren’t working or aren’t suitable for your particular problem, you should know that surgery can be an option too. In some cases, vertigo can be caused by tumors or some kind of body injuries. If, for example, the tumor is creating pressure to the area that urges vertigo, it must be removed so that the symptoms like dizziness or loss of balance can stop. It’s a quite severe procedure for sure, but you should consider it and make a decision which will be the best for your health.
How to Prevent Vertigo?
There are some ways that can help reduce the risk of vertigo. First of all, you should try vestibular rehabilitation, which is a form of physical therapy based on teaching your body how to compensate for the loss of balance by relying on other senses. Then, there is an Epley maneuver or CRP – a head exercise that should shift the calcium deposits from your inner ear channel. Sleeping on your back is the best position if you suffer from vertigo because you will prevent the movement of calcium stones in the case of BPPV, as well as building up the fluids typical for Meniere’s disease. Besides that, you should elevate your head in order to stop the vertigo attack when entering or getting out of the bed. Try waking up slowly and gently, so you don’t trigger vertigo episode, exercise, eat well, and minimize stress by any means.
Sleep Tips for Vertigo
You finally get how the absence of sleep is making vertigo shows up more often, and you must be tired of waking up dizzy. That’s the crucial reason why you should make sure to remove all obstacles that are standing between you and a good night’s rest.
1. Avoid drinking caffeine-based beverages a couple of hours before bed because they will make it difficult for you to fall or stay asleep.
2. Don’t eat spicy food, it will, for sure, disrupt your digestive system and make it very hard to sink into the realm of dreams.
3. Stop staring into the screen of your phone, TV, or computer right before bedtime, since that particular light will delay the production of melatonin – a well-known hormone that makes us fall asleep.
And, if it’s still hard for you to provide the right amount of resting hours, try meditation and breathing exercises.
For most of the people who are experiencing vertigo, back sleeping position is probably the best. We already pointed out all its benefits in the rows above, but the main reason is that in the case of Meniere’s disease or BPPV, the symptoms of vertigo should be minimal, or at least they would show up less often. Sleeping on the side, however, can make vertigo worse, especially if you laid down on your problematic ear is. To prevent yourself from rolling on the side, you can use the pillows and positioned them all around your body. But the truth is, these are just universal truths, you may have different experiences.
Pillows and Head Positioning
When it comes to pillows, you should use the higher ones so you can easily adjust the optimal angle. It’s interesting that a lot of people who were suffering from sleep vertigo found the solution in travel pillows that can offer extra support – that way, your head will be well held during the night. In order to prevent you from turning to the side when sleeping, you can use body pillows. When preparing to sleep, make sure your head is in the right position, up high. That will prevent fluids from building up and creating pressure, or the settling of inner ear calcium crystals.
Tips After Waking Up
First of all, don’t get up quickly out of bed, take your time. We established that shifting of calcium deposits caused by sudden movement could trigger vertigo. Move with intention, gently, and without fast and impulsive head moves. Also, you should consider setting the subtler alarm bell so your day won’t start by twitching and causing the unwanted dizzy feelings. It’s proven that a nice, soothing tone is more appropriate than the aggressive one when it comes to people with this kind of problem. Alarms that are emitting lights are an even better option since they will help you wake up easily, but efficiently.
1. How do you stop vertigo when lying down?
The first thing is to sit up. Then you should move your head 45 degrees to the side where your affected ear is. Keep your head that way and slowly lay down again, making sure your shoulders are on the pillow, and your head is slightly over the edge. Remain that way around 30 seconds.
2. Why is vertigo worse when you are lying down?
The dizziness that can occur when lying down can be caused by the little crystals, the ones that help sense gravity, moving from one part of the inner ear into another that detects head motion. If you change the position, it may pass.
3. How do you know which ear is causing vertigo?
Sit on a bed in a position that will allow you to lie down, so your head hangs over the edge. Then turn head to one side and lie back quickly. Stay like that for one minute. If you start feeling dizzy, you will know that’s the side with a troubled ear. If nothing happens, do the same thing with the head turned the other way.
The vertigo isn’t something that’s easy to live with. But it can be easier if you do the research and get to know all the details that follow this condition. Do your best to prevent it from happening, but stay calm if it does. It’s mandatory to go and visit the doctor, so you can establish what is causing it, and to eliminate the chances of having some serious disease. Vertigo may not be harmful, but it can disturb your life significantly and make you feel anxious all the time while expecting it to happen again. It will impact the quality of your life, so it’s really important to face it the right way, and if possible, to eliminate the main cause.