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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 wait lists for vestibular assessment are very long. Are there any private testing facilities in BC?
Unfortunately the wait lists for vestibular testing in the public system are indeed very long.
Some of the hospital services in BC have an urgent or expedited testing policy; whether this is your case or not will be determined by your referring physician at the time of your consult. You may also be able to get an early appointment if you can be available on short notice and ask to be put on a cancellation list.
However, there are a few private facilities in BC that currently offer formal vestibular assessment. To find them, use our online Directory of Health Professionals – limit your search to audiologists.
The balance system is complex and involves the brain analyzing and interpreting information from three major systems: the inner ear sensors for balance (vestibular system), the visual system, and the sensation that goes from the skin, muscles and joints (proprioceptive system).
Any sensation of dizziness and imbalance may result when one or more of these four parts are not functioning well. Therefore, the perceived asymmetries you experience may stem from the vestibular organs, from the proprioceptive system and/or from the brain’s processing of the their information. You did not mention visual issues, but treating these symptoms often involve also addressing the processing of visual information, with and without head movements.
You may wish to pursue assessments to clarify whether you do have asymmetries in your balance system, namely a vestibular assessment (for the inner ear sensors and their connections with eyes and brain) and a physiotherapy assessment, for the proprioceptive and musculo-skeletal systems. Proper treatment/rehabilitation can then be tailored to your needs.
Complex vestibular disorders are challenging to treat. For example, it can be very difficult to tease out the symptoms that distinguish Ménière’s disease or migrainous vertigo; they have very similar symptoms, but are treated very differently.
More complex cases are very individual and cannot always be pigeon-holed as Ménière’s or migrainous vertigo or some other particular disorder. Patients may have some but not all of the characteristics of Ménière’s disease, for example, and that is frustrating for doctors.
Why do I feel dizzy on the computer and why is my balance better when I wear a weighted vest or carry heavy things?
The balance system is complex and in fact involves 3 major sensory input systems, all controlled by the brain. The inner ear sensors for balance, eyes and the proprioceptors on the body all send information to the brain. Balance centres receive, analyze and integrate these bits of information and then send orders to the body to readjust according to the movement done in the first place.
When you are dizzy with computer use, it usually means that the balance system is relying more heavily on the visual input. It is not fully reassured by the inner ear sensors telling them you are not moving. You can read more about it here: https://balanceanddizziness.org/do-you-get-headaches-or-motion-sickness-from-playing-computer-games/
Having the weights on you or changing your posture as you walk is increasing the cues coming from the proprioceptive system to the brain. This additional input seems to help you balance.
I would recommend you to have your inner ear sensors tested. It might be that they are working just fine but your centres in the brain are not using their information properly or it might be that your brain is in need of all this additional information (visual and proprioception) because your inner ear sensors are dysfunctional.