Vertigo, Dizzy, Car-sick?

Dr. Charles W. Armour Chiropractor Paola, KS

Dr. Charles Armour is a top chiropractor in Paola, KS. With a passion for the field and an unwavering commitment to his specialty, Dr. Charles Armour is an expert in changing the lives of his patients for the better. Through his designated cause and expertise in the field, Dr. Charles Armour is a prime example of a true... more

To make it easy, we’re going to use the term ‘dizzy’ here to mean any of the following: vertigo, carsick, seasick, unsteady at any time, etc. Just know that ‘vertigo’ has a special meaning to physicians. In our world, it opens a host of differential diagnosis that does not come with ‘dizzy’

I have worked with many patients who tell me they feel dizzy, although they present with many different symptoms and causes. They may feel unsettled when getting out of bed. They may experience symptoms when they turn their head too fast in one direction or another. Several only have these symptoms when riding in a car - ‘carsick’ or when on a boat – ‘seasick’. They may experience falls or stumble. They may say “I just feel they are ‘lightheaded’.”

I have had dizziness myself, and I’ve been seasick too. Driving down the mountains east of Phoenix, through the switchbacks and grades, wow! I had to stop a couple of times just to settle my vision and stomach. And in a smaller boat on the ocean and high seas with all the up and down motion, not being able to focus on the horizon – well, let’s just say it was an interesting fishing trip.

Dizziness can present in different ways. You can feel as though you are spinning in the room (usually BPPV – see below), or the room can feel like it is spinning around you (central vertigo).  It can be mild, with just a little ‘swimmy-ness’ or lightheaded feeling. It can present with severe unsteadiness accompanied by falling, losing control of your car, or appearing to be intoxicated.

And it has different causes, too.  It can come from mineral imbalances, nerve damage from an accident (leading to swelling of the brain/inflammation), or a condition of the inner ear.  It can be a sign of impaired circulation or heat exhaustion/heat stroke. It can be the result of cervical spine restrictions (cervicogenic vertigo). Anemia can cause dizziness, as can blood sugar levels out of control (either high or low), or sensitivity to foods (dairy or gluten intolerance). Lack of sufficient minerals can lead to incorrect nerve and muscle function that leads to dizziness.

The back part of the brain (the cerebellum) contains our sense of ‘proprioception’. That means ‘the sense your body has of where it is in space’. It is how you can close your eyes, yet still, touch your finger to your nose. It is the controller of your sense of balance, so any impact to your head and resulting damage to this part of the brain can cause you to feel dizzy. Likewise, your brain's center of vision’ is in the lower back area. Vision plays a huge role in how we perceive balance and our ‘levelness’ in the world, so if our vision is impaired, we can become dizzy from that too.

The inner ear is closely tied to balance. It has structures that provide feedback to the cerebellum of the brain for our sense of balance. If we have bad input – we can have bad output. There are crystals that exist in our inner ears. Sometimes they become loose and are free to travel around the semicircular canals (one of those parts of the inner ear). Those canals exist in the X, Y, and Z directions and are fluid-filled. When those crystals move into those canal areas, they can stimulate receptors that tell your brain you are moving, even when you’re not – causing dizziness. If you move quickly, it can cause a heightened dizziness effect.

When those crystals stimulate the movement receptors, a condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) can result. There are treatments that involve turning your head in a certain direction, laying down for a short time, turning your head back to neutral, then doing the same in the other direction. These movements bring the crystals out of the semicircular canals and stop the dizzy spells. It may take more than one time to correct it, but these treatments do work.

As you can see, there are many causes of dizziness. Some may be easier to fix than others, but when your world starts spinning or you start spinning in the world, know there are treatments that can help. We can help you find the answers, even when it may not involve chiropractic treatment.

Respectfully, Dr. Armour
Armour Chiropractic