Thank you to everyone who attended our virtual coffee morning last Friday, it was great to see so many of you!
If you missed it, here is a summary of the talk given by Heba Jackson, Postural Stability Instructor and Falls Specialist Physiotherapist with a specialist interest in Vertigo;
This guide is designed to provide you with some general information regarding symptoms of dizziness. It can be one of the most common causes of falls and should not be ignored. There are some simple tips that you can try to manage your symptoms, however you must seek the advice of your GP to have the cause of your dizziness diagnosed.
What is dizziness?
What is meant by dizziness can be different for different people. Some people may report that the “world spins”, others may report feeling “lightheaded” or “swarmey” while other may feel “unbalanced.” The different feelings can indicate what may be causing those symptoms, so when talking to a health professional it can be helpful to know:
- How you would describe those symptoms in your own words
- What activities bring on the symptoms
- How often they occur (daily, monthly, yearly) and for how long does it last (seconds, minutes, hours)
Most Common Causes
- Postural Hypotension
- Inner ear problems – such as labyrinthitis, Benign Positional Paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s Disease
- Problems with Heart Rate or rhythm
- Side effect of many medications – particularly those that affect the heart or brain.
A drop in blood pressure that occurs when changing position from lying to sitting or sitting to standing. This leads to a temporary reduction in blood supply to organs and muscles and can lead to falls.
Most commonly occur after standing up and can include:
- Light headedness
- Feeling nauseous, hot and clammy
- Blurring, greying, blacking or tunnelling vision
- Feeling vague or muddled
- Weakness or Fatigue
- Pain across back and shoulders
How to Measure
Ideally this should be assessed by a Health Professional. However, many participants have got their own blood pressure machine at home and may want to test their own blood pressure before discussing their findings with their GP.
Follow the instructions provided with your own blood pressure machine.
- Sit or lie down for at least 5 minutes
- Measure your blood pressure and write it down
- Leave the cuff around your arm and rest for 2 minutes to allow your arm to recover
- Stand up slowly
- Retake your blood pressure within 1 minute and write it down
If there is a drop in the blood pressure between lying (or sitting) and standing you may have Postural Hypotension. Discuss your findings with a health professional.
Things to do if you have Postural Hypotension
- Speak to a Doctor/GP/Pharmacist to review your medication
- Drink a large glass of cold water before standing up
- Ensure you are drinking enough during the day
- Avoid excessive alcohol and large meals
- Try not to bend over when reaching for something. You should squat with your knees.
- Avoid standing or sitting for long periods.
- Avoid sudden changes in position. Try counting to 10 before moving.
- Exercise can reduce your symptoms.
- Sitting in your chair, march your legs briskly on the spot.
- Repeat this for 10 seconds, three times.
- Sitting down with both feet flat on the floor. Lift one foot off the floor until your knee is straight
- Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly lower your foot back to the floor.
- Repeat three times on each leg.
- Sitting in chair, place the heel of one foot on the floor then lift it and put the toes on the same spot.
- Repeat three times on each foot
People suffering from vertigo may report feeling as though the world is spinning or that they are spinning. There are a number of conditions that can cause vertigo and they can be treated in different ways. You may be referred to Audiology or Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) by your GP for further tests or treatment.
Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo (BPPV)
This is the most common type of vertigo and occurs on movements of the head, such as bending down, looking up, turning head quickly, lying down and rolling over in bed. The symptoms are often brief and last less than 1 minute, and are caused by some loose chalk crystals getting into the wrong part of your inner ear.
A health professional with the appropriate skills and knowledge may complete a test such as the Dix Hallpike Test to determine if you are suffering from BPPV. This condition can be then be easily treated with an Epley manoeuvre.
Many other causes of vertigo or dizziness can be treated with medication or exercises depending on the diagnosis. It is therefore important that you seek professional advice.
Thank you to Heba for the useful guidance. The next virtual coffee morning will take place on Friday 26th February, we hope to see you there!