Lifewatch: Vertigo

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

ISELIN, NJ - Dizziness, lightheadedness, and faintness are just some of the words used to describe vertigo.

Sometimes those sensations cans last for hours or even weeks, but now new guidelines for treatment of vertigo are a sign of hope for the 3 million cases diagnosed each year.

Last year, Melvin Weinstein of Iselin, New Jersey, woke up dizzy.  Doctors ruled out the possibilty of a stroke, but kept him in the hospital for six days, until it passed.

Weinstein was suffering from the most common cause of Vertigo, called Benign Paroxymal Positioning Vertigo (BPPV), which refers to crystals in your ears.

"When they break off and get into the wrong part of our inner ear, then they disturb the normal functioning of that ear and the ear winds up sending the wrong signal to the brain and the brain interprets that signal as you spinning," said Neurosurgeon Dr. Phillip Kramer.

Experts don't know why it happnes.

Medications can help the symptoms and in some cases surgery used to be performed to block the ear cnal, or cut the nerve, but not anymore.

The American Academy of Neurology recently issued guidelines for treatment.

"It's a simple maneuver that takes 2, 3 minutes and you lay them down and roll them in such a way so that the debris, the crystals that have gotten into the inner ear, roll through the inner ear back to the place where they belong," said Dr. Kramer.

Vertigo is one of the most common health problems among adults.  The National Institutes of Health says about 40% of people in the United States experience feeling dizzy at least once during their lifetime.

For more information about vertigo, click here.