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The Difference Between Vertigo and Dizziness, and a Natural Solution


Vertigo is sometimes described as dizziness by individuals who have experienced it. Vertigo and dizziness are similar, but they are not the same, and being able to tell the difference has a big impact on how your doctor prescribes treatment or diagnoses you. Understanding what each one is plays a big role in your getting the correct care for what you need. We will discuss what each one actually is and look at a natural means of getting Sacramento vertigo relief that has proven to be effective.

What Is Dizziness?

Also termed as lightheadedness, this is when you get the feeling of nearly passing out or fainting. It doesn't feel as though you or the things around you are moving. Dizziness will usually become less intense if you lie down. During severe cases, it can turn into a fainting spell, called syncope. You may also feel nauseated or possibly vomit.

Dizziness is not exclusive to one age group; however, it is seen more often in those who are older. In fact, the situation may be so anxiety provoking for some elderly people that they choose to avoid social activities. While dizziness itself is not dangerous, it can lead to falls and injuries.

Having a feeling of lightheadedness at one time or another is not a reason for concern, and a common cause is simply a momentary drop in blood pressure or blood flow to your head from standing up quickly. When dizziness is ongoing, it can be an indication of a more serious problem and should be evaluated by your primary care physician.

Lightheadedness could be a result of any of the following:

  • Illnesses such as the common cold or the flu
  • Hyperventilating -- very deep or rapid breathing
  • The use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or tobacco
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Illness that causes dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and fevers

To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and vertigo, download our complimentary e-book by clicking the image below.

Some less-common reasons for lightheadedness are listed below:

  • Bleeding - internal, in the digestive tract, or menstrual bleeding (usually accompanied by fatigue)
  • Abnormal heart rhythm leading to fainting spells
  • Prescription medications

What Is Vertigo?

This is best described as a false sensation of movement, of either the world around you or a feeling as though you are moving, when there actually is no movement at all. It may feel as though you are losing balance, whirling, tilting, falling, or most commonly, spinning. In severe cases of vertigo, you could feel sick and vomit. You could experience trouble walking or standing, or you could even lose your balance and fall.

Vertigo occurs because the messages being sent to your brain are conflicted. Your brain receives information from the four sensory systems responsible for maintaining your sense of balance and orientation in your environment. These sensory systems are as follows:

  • Visual input: You vision gives information regarding your position and movement in relation to the environment you are in. This is an essential part of how the balance system functions.
  • Skin pressure: This delivers information to the brain about what part of your body is feeling pressure, letting you know what position you are in. For example, your feet feel the most pressure when you are standing up.
  • The inner ear: This is called the labyrinth and includes the semicircular canals that have special cells to detect motion and changes in your position. When the inner ear gets injured or affected by illness, false signals could be sent to the brain. When these signals conflict with the signals from other system input, vertigo is possible.
  • Sensory nerves: These are nerves that are located in your joints, allowing your brain to understand what position your legs, arms, and torso are in. Your body is then able to start making intricate changes in your posture to help with balance.

Vertigo can be caused by the following:

  • Injury to the ear, head, or neck
  • Migraines - severe head pain
  • Inner ear disorders - BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), Meniere's disease, labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis
  • Decrease of the flow of blood through the arteries that supply blood to the brain

Here are two rare causes of vertigo:

  • Cholesteatoma - a noncancerous growth behind the eardrum
  • Brain tumors and cancer that have traveled from other parts of the body

Note: If you have noticed alterations to your speech or vision or similar loss of function in the body, it is vital that you seek immediate medical attention. This can be caused by a stroke or a transient ischemic attack.

Environmental factors that can cause vertigo (and lightheadedness) are shown here:

  • Alcohol interacting with prescription medications
  • Overmedicating
  • Drug withdrawal or intoxication
  • Abusing alcohol

Getting Relief for Vertigo and Dizziness

While the two conditions are not the same, they could have the same underlying cause. It has been found that a misalignment in the upper bones of the neck can be what is behind vertigo and dizziness. The C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) are uniquely designed to shield and house the delicate brainstem and spinal cord. The brainstem acts as a message board between the brain and body, as its role is to send and receive information. Issues arise with this system if the atlas or axis misalign, either from a trip or fall, or other causes such as whiplash, sporting accidents, or any other trauma that affects the head and neck. A major accident isn't necessary for these bones to misalign, and the trauma may have been incurred as long as 15 years prior. This type of misalignment places stress on the brainstem, causing it to send mixed signals from the sensory inputs to the brain about where the body is located. The good news is that there is a simple solution for correcting this misalignment.

In a study conducted by Dr. Erin Elster, an upper cervical chiropractor, 60 patients were observed who all had reported symptoms of vertigo. Each of them received a personally tailored adjustment to their atlas because they all had a misalignment in this area. From the 60 patients, 48 reported a complete resolution in their vertigo. The rest of the patients reported great improvements in their vertigo.

Our vertigo chiropractor in Sacramento uses similar methods in our office, applying gentle and precise adjustments to the upper vertebrae, allowing us to restore the bones to their proper place without needing to pop or crack the spine or neck. This leads many to see their vertigo improve or go away altogether.

To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Gottlieb, call 916-655-0569, or just click the button below. 

If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.

Contact Dr. Gottlieb in their Sacramento, CA practice.

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