I’ve suffered from Vertigo in the past 25 years. Several years ago it lasted FOR 6 MONTHS straight!
I’m not sure what brought it on, but I suspect it was from whiplash and a concussion I had a few years prior. I could barely walk (picture seeing someone REALLY DRUNK trying to walk) or leave the house and even the sound of a glass on the counter sent me spinning. That was one of the scariest times in my life. After being thrown drug after drug from some of the top doctors in NYC, thankfully my “google gods” brought me to Dr. Mike, a Chiropractic Neurologist who helped me recover. This article below is written 100% by him.
WHY DOES A VESTIBULAR PROBLEM CREATE SUCH DISABLING SYMPTOMS?
The vestibular apparatus in the inner ear fires powerfully into the vestibular nuclei in the Pons section of the brain stem. Within an inch up and down, you can get neurological spillover into all of the nerve pools that control the gut so a problem can alter gut function big time. (That’s why you can puke when you get car sick).
These inputs also directly control eye movements. Any imbalance or vestibular problem can make you feel weird in your environment because your eyes may not be able to track appropriately and you lose “where you are”.
These vestibular inputs travel into the brain and any abnormality from one inner ear (like BPPV) causes a sensory mismatch. This is where the brain gets messages that your head is moving from one ear and that it is stable from the other. The net result is a very weird feeling of motion, imbalance, lightheadedness, etc.
These inputs also hit the Limbic system where emotional regulation becomes skewed and thoughts, mood and cognition can be thrown off. Anxiety and depression can be common.
If the peripheral vestibular issue is not resolved quickly, it gets worse. Vestibular neuritis or BPPV are both happening outside the brain, usually in one inner ear. After a while, the brain can’t deal with abnormal signals from one side and this mismatch causes the brain to “slow down” input or compensate for that bad side. Now the peripheral problem is a central one in the brain itself and an Epley maneuver or antibiotics won’t make all the symptoms go away.
If your vestibular problem was caused by a concussion, it’s more complicated because within 12 hrs of getting a head injury, the injury to the blood brain barrier causes a reflex change to the gastrointestinal lining. This initiates a process called “leaky gut”. This gut problem allows large proteins to hit the blood stream causing a chronic inflammatory state. Inflammation in the gut affects the brain and creates neuro inflammation which prolongs the vestibular problem.
Understanding this neurology helps me and my functional neuro colleagues turn people around. Many need peripheral treatments, many need intensive balance and oculomotor training and many need intensive gut rehab. Some need all 3.
If you need to find a specialist in your area, check out www.acnb.org