When the world spins round and round, find out why
BPPV. I thought I had it.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV is a type of vertigo caused by a disorder in the vestibular system in the inner ear. Occurring suddenly with a change in the position of your head, it is characterized by dizziness and loss of balance.
At the core of the problem are crystals found in the inner ear that become detached from the lining of the vestibular system. When the head changes position, these crystals shift. Since the vestibular apparatus is responsible for balance, dysfunction can cause vertigo.
Vertigo sends more than 6 million people to the doctor every year, almost half can be BPPV.
About a week and a half ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and stumbled to the bathroom. I felt like I was falling forward. I managed to make it to the bathroom then back to bed and once I was lying down again, I was fine.
When I woke up a few hours later, I certainly seemed fine and headed for my workout.
One of the exercises on this particular morning had me lying on my back. When I started to get up, my world went upside down again. I had to stop. About 20 seconds later, I was normal.
It took me about three times to figure out that I really didn’t need to be lying on my back and then getting up quickly.
At that point, I was convinced that I had vertigo. One of the physical therapists that I work with is Whitney Sharp, who has specialized in the treatment of vertigo. Unfortunately for me, Whitney was in Oregon to watch her son — Tennessee Tech kicker Zach Sharp — play football. At our Springbrook office, is another physical therapist that is trained in the treatment of vertigo, Dr. Courtney Irons.
So I took off to see her. After a thorough examination, she decided that I didn’t have vertigo. Next stop: upstairs to see my personal physician, Dr. Kevin Turner. Dr. Turner did his usual thorough job with an EKG and blood work.
It was from the blood work that he discovered that I was dehydrated. I had no idea. This episode had started on a Tuesday night and I had a hard bike ride on Tuesday but I thought I had hydrated sufficiently.
One of the problems with dehydration is dizziness and a form of vertigo. I didn’t really know that but I sure do now.
I’ve had patients, friends, and colleagues with vertigo but I didn’t really know what they were experiencing. But when your world gets all topsy-turvy, it gets your attention.
And I know that if you do have vertigo, there is something you can do. For this episode, a combination of a physical therapist and a primary care physician fixed the problem quickly for me.
And one thing you can be assured of: I will drink more water. I don’t want to go down that path again.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation. Write to him at (email@example.com)