Mar 29, 2022

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

While it is a hit U2 rock song, most people feel like crying the blues when they suffer from Vertigo. Vertigo, like fever is a medical symptom rather than a condition itself, where the environment around you is spinning, moving, or rocking. Contrary to popular belief it has nothing to do with the fear of heights.

These feelings of movement range from being barely noticeable to so severe it is difficult to perform everyday tasks. Vertigo can develop suddenly for some and only last a few seconds, while being very persistent and constant over several days.

Aside from your surroundings appearing as though they are moving, vertigo can have other debilitating side effects. Loss of balance, feeling dizzy, feeling sick. These symptoms may require you to seek medical help.

Although diagnosing the cause of vertigo can be tricky, we do know it is usually caused by an inner ear problem, although there can be issues stemming from brain function as well. Causes of vertigo can include rapid uncontrolled head movements, migraines, serious inner ear infections and inflammation of the nerves in the ear tubes which throw off balance. In addition to vertigo the above causes may also lead to fever, tinnitus and maybe hearing loss. It can also be caused by Meniere's Disease, which is a chronic middle ear disorder.

Unfortunately, cases of vertigo often repeat themselves, often in the case of Meniere's Disease. You must stay on top of prevention mechanisms and have treatment available which works for you. A series of simple head movements, known as the Epley maneuver or Semont maneuver can work. For instructions on these "exercises" google them and find a reputable site. These vestibular rehabilitation training exercises attempt to rehabilitate the brain and inner ear to improve the effects of vertigo.

Self-treatment can begin with dimenhydrinate (Gravol) to help with severity of vertigo symptoms. Only try this short term, use as little as is effective and please note it can make you drowsy. Betahistine, known by its old brand name label of Serc, is a prescription medication commonly prescribed to treat vertigo. Betahistine works by improving the circulation in the ear, which will hopefully decrease the vertigo. The dose of betahistine ranges from 8 to 24mg and can be taken two or three times a day regularly until it brings the vertigo under control. It should be taken with food. You do need a prescription for this so if you are experiencing vertigo speak to a walk-in physician or if it is a regular occurrence make sure you family doctor has some on hand for you.

There are some self-care tips which may help limit the severity of vertigo. Start with the bedroom. Ensure you are getting proper sleep, as vertigo and Meniere's disease has been linked to fatigue and stress. Sleep with your head slightly raised on two or more pillows. Get out of bed slowly and sit on the edge of the bed for a minute or two before standing up. Avoid bending down to pick up items. If you do have to pick something up bend at the knees, keeping the head stable and focused on an object ahead. Try to avoid straining or extending your neck. During daily activities move your head slowly and carefully, as jarring movements could precipitate symptoms of vertigo. However, if you can pinpoint certain activities that cause vertigo you might want to practice them. Doing this can get your brain accustomed to the troublesome movements and maybe reduce the symptoms. You of course need to make sure you are not at a risk of fall or injury.

If you have questions about vertigo and specifically the treatment of it, you can speak to your clinic pharmacist. If you are experiencing debilitating vertigo ensure you seek medical help, so you are not at a place called vertigo.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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