Are you having an acute vertigo (sensation of spinning) spell?
Are you experiencing any additional symptoms such as vomiting, changes in your vision, difficulty standing up, walking, speaking or swallowing?
If yes, you may want to see a Family or Emergency Physician.
Dr. Kevin Shi, MD, CCFP (EM), FCFP, emergency physician at Delta and Richmond General Hospitals and a clinical associate professor at UBC highlights on this talk that the doctor’s role in this situation is to rule out any serious causes for your symptoms.
Once the worst of your vertigo spell is over and you are able to start moving your head and walking around, it is time to book a vestibular assessment. With results in hand, you will know what you can expect from the recovery process, what you can do to help you recover, and whether any other testing, investigation or treatment should be pursued.
In the weeks following an acute episode you may still feel dizzy – lightheaded, unsteady, feeling like you are rocking or swaying. You may have been told to wait and you will feel better soon. You may notice that certain movements trigger or exacerbate your symptoms. You may feel apprehensive that the vertigo will be back if you become active again and move too much.
It is likely that your symptoms will continue to improve overtime. This is what happens in the majority of acute vertigo spells. While it is a natural reaction to reduce and even avoid movements that may provoke dizziness, this is in fact a counter-productive measure in most of the cases. First, you will reduce input on the centres of the brain reading your head movement. This will prevent the reorganization of the connections that may have been affected during your vertigo spell. Movements may then continue to provoke dizziness. In addition to that, in order to reduce movement, particularly head movements, we tend to hold neck and shoulders really tight, building considerable tension. These muscles may become sore. Unfortunately, in a few weeks, moving may become increasingly uncomfortable for two reasons: not only will you feel dizzy but also you will experience neck and shoulder pain or discomfort.
In order to avoid getting into this cycle, it is important to slowly but surely return to your regular level of activity and natural way of moving your body and head. If you have just had an acute episode of vertigo and are finding it hard to return to moving as usual, book an appointment for vestibular assessment.The goal of this appointment is to help determine whether the vestibular system (inner ear sensors for balance) is contributing to your dizziness. It may also help if it shows signs that the brain may actually be involved in the origin of your dizziness. Knowing what part of this complex system is likely to be the culprit will help us understand what you can expect from the recovery process and will guide us in putting together an individualized treatment plan.