Treating Vertigo in Seniors

Vertigo has become an increasingly common issue in the senior community today. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 70% of seniors deal with vertigo in some capacity. It is very important that seniors dealing with vertigo are able to quickly get this issue treated. Seniors who have vertigo are more likely to suffer from falls which can result in serious injury or hospitalization. Falls are already the number one reason that seniors end up in the hospital, so the more that they can do to lessen their chances, the better.

Vertigo can come with a number of symptoms and movement can make these symptoms worse. Many seniors experience lightheadedness, a sense of fainting or feelings of imbalance. However, there are many who also experience nausea or vomiting with their vertigo.

There are several different issues that may cause vertigo. Central causes of vertigo come from the brain or spinal cord. Peripheral vertigo is caused by issues with the inner ear. Finding a treatment for vertigo heavily depends on diagnosing the cause of the vertigo first, which is why it is important to visit a healthcare provider to determine what type of vertigo seniors are dealing with.

Treatments can vary, and different seniors may find better results with different treatments. The most common treatments include:

Particle repositioning movements. This head adjustment actually moves the loose crystals, known as canaliths in the inner ear to remedy irritations in the inner ear. This is a very common treatment for peripheral vertigo and often resolve symptoms.

Cawthorne head exercises. These are a series of head and eye movements that can actually decrease sensitivity in the nerves in the inner ear. These regular movements can drastically improve vertigo symptoms.

Medications. Sometimes, taking a senior off of a medication causing vertigo is a great solution, while other situations, seniors can try new medications to help with their vertigo. However, these treatments are not recommended for long-term use. Meclizine is typically prescribed for vertigo, and other medicines like Valium and Benzodiazepine may also work as well. However, they are more symptomatic.

Antibiotic therapies. In some rare occasions, bacterial infections can cause vertigo, so antibiotics can be used to treat this condition.

Surgery. In some severe cases of vertigo where seniors have what is known as BPPV, a surgery can be done to insert a bone plug into the inner ear to block where the vertigo is being triggered. Surgery can also be used in certain cases of Meniere’s disease.

Dietary changes. Seniors who have Meniere’s disease and suffer from vertigo because of this condition may find dietary changes helps their vertigo. Adding herbal supplements such as gingko biloba is also another popular approach.

While vertigo can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, and treatments may take a few trial and error approaches, many seniors are eventually able to get some reprieve from their vertigo symptoms and find the improved quality of life that they deserve.

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