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I have been diagnosed with BPPV. My community has no support group for dizziness. I don’t know where to turn. Can you give me a plan of action?
You have expressed the feelings of many people affected by dizziness! It is not always easy to find support in your community; you end up seeing quite a few professionals and they aren’t always on the same page as to your diagnosis and treatment plan, and you are left with uncertainty about what you can expect in the future. Without getting into too much detail about your diagnosis and treatment (you can read more about BPPV here) I would like to encourage you to:
1) get informed (the link above is a good place to start) and then clarify with your healthcare professionals what their treatment plan is. Ask as many questions as you need. Read some more if you need to. Here is a list of recommended books.
2) once you feel you have a direction to follow for treatment, stick with it for a set amount of time. Six weeks is a reasonable time frame. During this time, try your very best to stick with the treatment plan and to stay positive.
3) use the online resources of our Society and your local sources of support. Since you mentioned that there are no specific dizziness support groups, how about you try your community for balance exercises, for example? You can also look for Tai Chi classes and classes designed for falls prevention. You will most likely find others dealing with similar issues.
4) At the end of your “trial” with this plan, reassess your symptoms and your goals. You may find that you were on the right track OR you may need to start on number one all over again and try a different treatment plan.
Keep in mind that, even if you need to go back and follow a different course of action, that is okay, it will not be forever. Give yourself again about six weeks time and reassess. Stay in the present moment as much as you can, focusing on what you can effectively do right then and there.
The otoliths are a chandelier-like structure hanging from the ceiling of the inner ear. As we move, its canals bend from side to side and we sense these movements. Like a chandelier, this structure is weighted by crystals. These tiny rocks can come loose and fall into the canals causing BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo).
Every time someone with BPPV does a particular head movement, for example putting their head back to look for something on an upper shelf or rolling over in bed, they get dizzy. This happens because the loose crystals overstimulate the movement sensors in the canal. There are canal-specific manoeuvres that can be performed by a doctor, audiologist or physiotherapist to shift the crystals back to where they belong.
Between 85 to 90% of BPPV affects the posterior canal; for most patients, it is easily fixed using the Epley manoeuvre. The Barbeque Roll (rotational) manoeuvre is used when the horizontal canal is affected. Read more about BPPV.
You might have an underlying condition that behaves like BPPV. A second possibility is recurrent BPPV; it can be fixed by a manoeuvre but then comes back. It’s also possible that the source of your problem isn’t in the inner ear, but higher up in your brain; if the sensors in your brain that interpret the information sent by the ear aren’t working properly, these manoeuvres will be of no use.