Patients with a vestibular disorder may have a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms of a vestibular disorder include dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance. Patients may also experience nausea, hearing changes, anxiety, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. There are several causes and types of vestibular disorders which can be determined by your physician.
Vestibular Neuritis and Labyrinthitis
Vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis are caused by an irritation of the vestibular nerve within the inner ear due to an infection. The infection is typically viral and can be preceded by any systemic viral infection like the common cold.
The infection can move to the inner ear and cause irritation of the vestibular nerve. The irritation of the nerve results in an often sudden attack of vertigo and possible nausea. The symptoms may be severe and can last for a period of 1-4 days with gradual improvement over the next several weeks.
For some people, these symptoms will resolve on their own. For others, activities like driving, walking through the grocery store, crowds, malls, airports, or just down the street continue to cause dizziness and imbalance. These individuals may also notice difficulty concentrating, fuzzy vision, and symptoms worsening with fatigue.
There are many other causes of dizziness and vertigo. It is important to see your physician to discuss your symptoms and receive a proper diagnosis prior to beginning vestibular rehabilitation.
Balance Retraining Exercises
When the vestibular system has been affected by vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis the nerve signaling related to balance and walking has also changed. When this occurs, balance training is also indicated. Balance retraining involves exercises designed to improve coordination of muscular responses as well as the organization of sensory information (eye sight, vestibular system) for balance control.
Canal Repositioning Maneuvers
When the patient has been affected by BPPV canal repositioning maneuvers are indicated. During the evaluation it will be determined what canal the debris lies in. Once the physical therapist has determined this, a canal repositioning maneuver will be used to dislodge or reposition the debris within the affected canal.