Being dizzy or off balance can be a scary sensation.
Many adults experience vertigo, dizziness, light headed sensations, ringing in the ears or general feeling of unsteadiness. It is important to address these issues quickly as they may result in other complications such as falls that lead to further injury or decline.
There are several causes of dizziness, from medication side effects to lack of hydration, neurological disorders or problems in the inner ear.
Vertigo becomes more common as we age, affecting almost 10% of people over 65, and women more often than men.
To learn more about dizziness, I spoke to Dr. Kevin Gietzen D.O.
Dr. Gietzen is board certified in otolaryngology and facial plastic/reconstructive surgery by the American Osteopathic Board of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology.
He practices at Great Lakes Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists in Petoskey and Gaylord.
MYM: What is the most common trigger for dizziness that your patients experience?
Gietzen: “The most common cause of spinning movements in adults is Benign Positional Vertigo, which is triggered by head movements, such as when you roll over in bed or look up at the ceiling.”
MYM: What are the top 2 causes of dizziness you see in patients?
Gietzen: “The most common cause is “Benign Positional Vertigo” which is due to loose calcium carbonate crystals the size of red blood cells in our inner ears. The second most common is likely a combination of disorders of the muscles and bones that lead to imbalance.”
MYM: What are some treatment options for those types of dizziness?
Gietzen: “Benign positional vertigo can be treated easily with particle repositioning maneuvers (Epley maneuvers) done in my office or by physical therapists. Balance strengthening home exercises or formal physical therapy can help with many disorders that have caused impaired balance.”
MYM: What is your advice for someone who has started to notice they’re getting dizzy?
Gietzen: “Start by arranging a visit with your primary care provider. Medication side effects, heart and blood vessel disorders, muscle and bone disorders, disorders of the nervous system, and lastly, disorders of the inner ear, can all play a role in causing dizziness symptoms. Just like a kitchen table usually has four legs to stand on, if any one of these is weak or missing, the table will wobble and possibly tip over.
“All four of these body systems play a role in our balance, and disorders of one or more may cause dizziness symptoms.”
Karin Leland, DPT, is a physical therapist at Northern Michigan Sports Medicine Center in Harbor Springs and has a special interest in vestibular disorders. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. This information is not to be considered medical advice and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical professional.