Archive for July, 2009

Vestibular Disorder Stressing You Out?

Vertigo, dizziness, Meniere’s disease, tinnitus and other vestibular symptoms and disorders can be extremely stressful. The feeling that nobody really understands what you’re going through with these “invisible” symptoms can cause extreme anxiety in individuals.

Here are some helpful tips on how to calm your anxiety:

  1. Exercise. Few things can help relax you more quickly than a bit of vigorous exercise. [If your symptoms are flaring up, maybe even go for a slow walk outdoors.]
  2. Meditate. Try taking a few minutes out of your day to clear your mind of your worries and meditate.
  3. Breathe deeply. Count your breaths and concentrate on breathing in and out deeply.
  4. Focus on something else. Temporarily [shift] your attention to something else unrelated to what you’re upset about.
  5. Talk to others. Connecting with a friend or family member and sharing your anxieties can be a great way to get insight, advice and to alleviate some of your stress by getting support and understanding.
  6. Slow down. Give yourself a break and just slow down if you’re feeling stressed out. Getting yourself worked up to rush around won’t help, so slow down, take a break and let yourself relax.
  7. Don’t work yourself up. Stop yourself if you feel that you’re getting yourself riled up, and force yourself to calm down and look at things rationally.
  8. Let the past go. If you’re feeling bad about things that have already happened, take a moment to realize that there’s nothing you can do to change these things now. Take steps to begin letting the past go and making positive choices for the future.

The following web site has a list of 50 “quick and easy ways to calm your anxiety”, including dietary suggestions and tips for both the home and workplaces.

http://noedb.org/library/features/50_quick_and_easy_ways_to_calm_your_anxiety

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BPPV Testimonial

“On May 29, 2009, I came to LifeStyle on the advice of my primary doctor due to my BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) and I did not know what to expect. My only concern is I will do anything to get rid of this dizziness and heaviness in my head because it affects not only myself but my work. I could not function well.
After two weeks, I was still not feeling better. I thought maybe I was being misdiagnosed but another two weeks came by, I slowly begin to see positive changes in my condition. Before, I would only do simple tasks [and] I would get dizzy, just like when I was sleeping, I would turn my head and I felt the surrounding was spinning. I would walk outside to get something to eat, I had to go back because I got this lightheadedness feeling.

It has been six weeks and I notice that my confidence in what I do is beginning to come back. The exercises and other stuff I have been doing contributed to it. I thank the whole staff for helping get to where I am.”

-L.L. 07/16/09

Habituation Exercises and Vestibular Disorders

Habituation exercises are when the patient is repeatedly exposed to techniques and exercises that stimulate the vestibular symptoms. Through repeated exposure to these exercises, the brain will re-train and be accustomed to the movements and the symptoms will lessen.

These habituation exercises will vary depending on the patient’s vestibular symptoms but will always include exercises that trigger the symptoms (ie. vertigo, nausea). Habituation is just one of the techniques used to combat dizziness and may take awhile to train the brain. But, from a positive perspective, here is one case study that shows a great result of habituation exercises.

Patient: The patient was a 34-year-old marine biologist referred for treatment of motion sickness. During the past 5 years, she experienced 3 severe episodes of vertigo, which lasted several days and were increasingly more severe. Initially, the only symptom was a feeling of light-headedness. Symptoms during the third episode included nausea, vertigo, and limited ability to function, and these symptoms persisted…The medical examination done by the neurotologist included rotary chair testing with electronystagmography and posturography, both of which were negative for central and peripheral vestibular deficits or other deficits. She had no other medical problems (eg, hearing loss, migraines) that could lead to motion sickness, and she had no precipitating illnesses or conditions (eg, trauma, inner ear infections) that could contribute to her current problem. The patient took no medications and had normal vision without corrective lenses. She had no family history of vertigo, vestibular dysfunction, or motion sickness.

<other information: Initial interview, Physical examination, Intervention, Outcomes (week 2 follow-up, week 4 follow-up, week 7 follow-up)>

WEEK 10 FOLLOW-UP: The patient could complete all exercises without difficulty, had resumed all work activities, and experienced no dizziness at home or when driving. She experienced only mild motion sickness (mild light-headedness, but no nausea, dizziness, or sweating) after scuba diving for 3 hours, but could continue if necessary. Once out of the water (but still on the boat), all symptoms subsided within 15 to 20 minutes. The patient was instructed to continue with the exercises twice weekly to maintain her status and was discharged from therapy. Upon telephone follow-up 10 months later, she reported that she had stopped the exercises and was maintaining her ability to function at work and at home.”

http://www.ptjournal.org/cgi/content/full/79/10/949

Controlling Symptoms and 21st Century Technology

TV

 TVs, computers and other technology have come a long way over the years and now there are some ideas on what technology to use to minimize the symptoms of vestibular disorders.

1) Replace an old-style cathode-ray tube (CRT) computer monitor–the large, heavy kind–with a flat-panel LCD (liquid-crystal display) screen. CRT monitors, because of the way the images are painted onto the screen, are more prone to flickering, particularly toward the edges of the screen. This increases eyestrain and difficulty in focusing.

2) Choose LCD displays over plasma. Plasma monitors may have a wider viewing angle and more vibrant colors, but their images tend not to be as sharp as those displayed by an LCD monitor or TV. Lack of sharpness increases focusing problems.

3) Don’t look for TVs and monitors with a high level of brightness. The amount of light produced by a screen is measured in candelas per square meter, abbreviated as NITS. Anyone suffering from inner-ear maladies should look for a brightness level equal to or less than 300 NITS.

4) Keep the resolution of the display at the setting recommended by the manufacturer. Changing it will degrade the images, increasing the likelihood of problems in individuals with vestibular problems.

5) Purchase an LCD HDTV or widescreen flat-panel LCD computer monitor–as wide as you can afford. These are more likely to be free of flicker, and offer the most flexibility in viewing.

Tips:

  • When electronics shopping, take along protective devices like baseball caps to cut down on overhead lights, and ear plugs to blunt the noise level.
  • Use a shopping cart if available. The extra support may prevent attacks of vertigo.
  • Keep your monitor or television turned to the lowest tolerable brightness.
  • Use full-spectrum incandescent lights rather than fluorescents.
  • **Please note that this article states “The chance of contracting vestibular disorders may be worse in modern society, with so many people using computers or watching television.” You won’t “contract” a vestibular disorder from technology, the disorder is an inner ear disease…one has nothing to do with the other.

    http://www.ehow.com/how_4514207_minimize-vestibular-disorders-using-tvs.html

    “What You Need to Know About Balance and Falls”

    From the American Physical Therapy Association, a great pamphlet including great exercises and tips for balance skills.

    http://www.apta.org/AM/Images/APTAIMAGES/ContentImages/ptandbody/balance/BalanceFall.pdf

    Epley Maneuver

    Here’s a YouTube video of the Epley maneuver performed and explained by a healthcare professional (or at least an actor portraying a healthcare professional) for BPPV treatment. This should be performed by a healthcare professional (physical therapists who specialize in vestibular disorders can perform the Epley maneuver), not tried by oneself. But this is a basic overview of what will happen when you visit a vestibular disorder specialist.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqokxZRbJfw&feature=related

    Dr. Timothy Hain to Speak at 3rd Vestibular Support Group

    Dr. Timothy Hain, neurologist and otolaryngologist with Chicago Dizziness & Hearing, will be joining our 3rd Vestibular Support Group as our guest speaker. We are very excited to

    “Dr. Hain is locally known as the “Dizzy Doctor”. Dr. Hain’s clinical activities naturally “revolve” around evaluating and treating dizzy individuals as well as persons with hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis.” (CDH’s Web site: http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/cv/hain/hain-t.htm)

    Dr. Hain was recently interviewed by NPR concerning BPPV: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103463398