Last week, I was enjoying a fantastic spring day while walking in the park with my friend, Kate. Then, all of a sudden she got dizzy. She told me her head just started spinning, and that she felt lightheaded. The sensation would soon re-appear.
A few days later, the random spinning returned. “It was like I was on a roller roaster,” Kate said of her condition.
Kate’s experience reminded me of a National Hockey League game I once saw on TV back in 2011. The Anaheim Ducks were playing the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks’ goalie, Jonas Hiller, had an awful game. He was slow to react and allowed three goals on only 10 first-period shots. After the game, the goalie reported symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness.
What is the condition that affected both Kate and Jonas? They both had the vestibular disorder, vertigo.
What is Vertigo?
Kate and Jonas are not alone in their struggle. In the U.S., vertigo and dizziness affect about 5% to 10% of the population. However, in adults older than 40, this number jumps to 40%.It is important to note that dizziness does not necessarily result in vertigo. Vertigo is a certain type of dizziness where you feel as if everything is spinning, off balance, or unsteady when there is absolutely no movement going on. Some people associate vertigo with a fear of heights. But this is a condition called acrophobia.
Causes and Symptoms of Vertigo
What are the most common vertigo causes? Your dizziness is likely the result of an inner ear imbalance. Or, there is a disturbance in sensory nerve pathways or parts of the brain (called central vertigo). Perhaps it’s associated with ongoing migraines, another cause of vertigo.Vertigo can be a symptom brought on by several different conditions. In many cases, the vertigo causes are inner ear or peripheral conditions— the most common one being benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). With this form, the slightest change in head position causes the sudden spinning sensation associated with vertigo. In most cases, BPPV is considered spontaneous. While other times, it can be caused by ear surgery, a head injury, prolonged bed rest, and reduced blood flow to a particular area of the brain.
BPPV can also result from the viral infection labyrinthitis, which is an inner ear labyrinth and vestibular nerve inflammation. The other vertigo-related inflammatory condition is vestibular neuronitis, also stemming from vestibular nerve inflammation. Meniere’s disease is another inflammatory ear-related form of vertigo. But this one is considered a viral and bacterial infection. This vertigo is caused by fluid pressure in the inner ear.
Other possible vertigo causes include anemia, dehydration, calcium deficiency, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Other symptoms associated with vertigo include blurry or double vision, ear pain, facial paralysis, vomiting, nausea, cold feet, and tinnitus—which is known as ringing in one or both ears.
If you think your dizziness and head spinning may be a bout of vertigo, consult a doctor for a diagnosis immediately. This process includes a medical history, and the Dix-Hallpike test in which you hang your head after moving it to the side.
Other possible diagnostic testing for vertigo and inner ear disease may include videonystagmography (VNG), electronystagmography (ENG), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea drugs, inner ear suppressor medications (such as meclizine or promethazine), or a tranquilizer drug like “Valium.”
Dietary Changes to Ease Vertigo Symptoms
Luckily, appropriate lifestyle changes and natural vertigo treatments may improve your symptoms. A good place to start is your diet. What are some good strategies for an anti-vertigo diet?
1. Reduce High Cholesterol
High cholesterol can sometimes lead to vertigo and dizziness caused by poor circulation in the body. You can easily balance cholesterol levels with a high-fiber diet by including a variety of fruit, vegetables, and legumes. Some great choices include raspberries, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lentils, pinto beans, and black beans. Essential fatty acids also protect the heart. Good sources include flaxseeds and fatty fish like salmon or mackerel.
2. Reduce High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure and atherosclerosis are possible vertigo causes as well. As a result, necessary dietary changes can help combat it at the source. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is often prescribed for high blood pressure. The diet consists of high amounts of vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. The DASH method is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
3. Lower High Blood Sugar
Diabetes is another possible cause of vertigo. Low glycemic (GI) foods can help regulate blood sugar levels. Low GI foods will raise blood sugar levels slowly, and include foods with a GI of 55 or less. Some nutrient-dense low GI foods are artichokes, zucchini, cabbage, okra, radishes, broccoli, eggplant, watercress, lettuce, asparagus, celery, and turnip greens.
4. Consume Plenty of Magnesium-Rich Foods
Vertigo is thought to be a symptom of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium-rich foods in an anti-vertigo diet should include quinoa, buckwheat, ginger, salmon, basil, collard greens, beets, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, kale, and tofu.
Foods to Avoid
There are many other food causes of vertigo. The following are foods you should avoid:
1. Salty Foods
If your diet contains many processed foods, it is likely also high in sodium. Sodium can disrupt fluid regulation and balance in the body, leading to vertigo symptoms. A nutritious anti-vertigo diet with natural foods will provide sufficient sodium for a healthy adult. Avoid processed snack foods, frozen dinners, and canned products.
2. Sugary Foods
High-sugar products will also upset fluid balance that may trigger vertigo. Consume a whole-food diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid processed sugary foods like soft drinks, cereals, baked goods, pancake syrup, and jam.
3. Migraine Food Triggers
The amino acid tyramine can trigger migraine headaches. It is best to avoid tyramine-rich foods. These include aged meats like smoked sausage, liverwurst, and pepperoni, and aged cheeses like provolone, brie, cheddar, and mozzarella. Other high-tyramine foods include figs, bananas, nuts, chocolate, and yogurt.
Vertigo Home Remedies
There are plenty of other natural strategies for vertigo treatment at home. A great natural remedy for vertigo includes regular intake of water. It is best to keep well hydrated with 10 8-oz glasses of filtered water. Add a pinch of salt, black pepper, and juice from half an organic lemon to a glass of lukewarm water to make lemon water, which is known to reduce feelings of dizziness.
What are some other natural vertigo remedies?
Herbal remedies have long been used to treat vertigo, nausea, and dizziness. Some effective herbal supplements include ginger, wild indigo, cayenne, turmeric, butcher’s broom, and ginkgo biloba.
Some other supplements used to reduce vertigo symptoms are vinpocetine, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), dimethylglycine, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, and vitamin B complex.
Some common vertigo homeopathy remedies include bryonia, calcarea carbonica, cocculus, conium, nux vomica, phosphorus,petroleum, iodine, ferrum metallicum, and ambra grisea. The homeopathic remedy “Vertigoheel” is also considered an effective vertigo treatment. In a double-blinded, randomized, and controlled study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2005, researchers found that Vertigoheel improved vertigo symptoms.
The study observed 170 atherosclerosis-related vertigo patients between the ages of 60 and 80 years old for a six-week period. There were 87 patients given Vertigoheel, and 83 received ginkgo biloba. Both treatments were deemed effective in reducing atherosclerosis-related vertigo symptoms.
Other Vertigo Treatments and Considerations
There are some considerations for vertigo treatment. For instance, over-the-counter drugs can increase vertigo symptoms; these include aspirin, antacids, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Avoid consuming tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine, as they are also known to increase vertigo symptoms. Some people recover quite easily with sufficient sleep—so all you may need is a good night’s rest.
What are other vertigo prevention and treatment methods? Overall, it is best to develop a healthy lifestyle and reduce stress. But some other natural therapies for vertigo include cranial sacral therapy, acupuncture, hypnosis, guided imagery, and biofeedback. Regular light exercises can help you relax—especially yoga, meditation, tai chi, and qigong.
Follow these strategies to alleviate vertigo right away:
- Move slowly; it allows you to focus and clear your head
- Avoid looking down or up; this could worsen symptoms of dizziness
- Focus on a distant object; things from afar move slower, and this can reduce dizziness
- Avoid repetitive movements; they also worsen vertigo symptoms and imbalance the body
Sources for Today’s Article:
Hershoff, A., N.D., Homeopathic Remedies: A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and Their Homeopathic Treatments (New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1999), 192-193, 284-285.
Balch, J., et al., Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet, Nutrition, Supplements, and Other Holistic Methods (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004), 154-159, 544-547.
Samy, H.M., “Dizziness, Vertigo, and Imbalance,” Medscape web site; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2149881-overview, last accessed April 7, 2015.
“Vertigo: causes, symptoms and treatment,” Medical News Today; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160900.php, last updated Feb. 12, 2015.
“Does Diet Really Matter?” Vestibular Disorders Association web site; http://vestibular.org/understanding-vestibular-disorders/treatment/vestibular-diet, last accessed April 7, 2015.
“How to Alleviate Vertigo,” wikiHow web site; http://www.wikihow.com/Alleviate-Vertigo, last accessed April 7, 2015.
Issing, W., et al., “The homeopathic preparation Vertigoheel versus Ginkgo biloba in the treatment of vertigo in an elderly population: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, February 2005; 11(1): 155-160.
“Vertigo,” Andrew Weil web site; http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03203/Vertigo.html, last accessed April 7, 2015.
“11 Easy Home Remedies for the Treatment of Vertigo,” Home Remedy Shop web site, Nov. 22, 2013; http://www.homeremedyshop.com/11-easy-home-remedies-for-the-treatment-of-vertigo/.
“Vertigo,” Drug.com web site; http://www.drugs.com/health-guide/vertigo.html, last accessed April 7, 2015.
McLaughlin, A., “Foods to Avoid for Vertigo,” LIVESTRONG.com web site; http://www.livestrong.com/article/445902-foods-avoid-vertigo/, last accessed April 7, 2015.
“My Experience with Vertigo, Cold Feet and Nausea,” Connective Tissue Disorder web site; http://www.ctds.info/vert-treat.html, last accessed April 7, 2015.