I remember getting the text message from my mom. It was on the air at Q102, so she couldn't call me, but the text went something like this: "I'm OK but I just wanted to let you know that I'm going to the hospital. I haven't been able to stand up or walk without getting very dizzy. I almost fell going down the hallway and I'm going to the ER. I'll keep you posted."
Yeah, imagine getting that from your mom and feeling scared about what was happening. It turned out my mom was suffering from vertigo. I didn't understand what that meant other than that it was exactly what she said, "I'm just really dizzy."
I reached out to Julianna Bort, DO, a family medicine specialist, and Kelsey Biller, a physical therapist, from The Christ Hospital Health Network with my questions about vertigo.
What is vertigo?
For starters, I wanted to know about vertigo and what it was. Kelsey said, "Vertigo is the sensation of motion that causes the patient to feel off-balance, typically either feeling as though they are spinning, or the room is spinning. Other symptoms include nausea, feeling 'off,' or light-headed."
Some of the common causes of vertigo include head trauma, migraines, viral infection, consequences of strokes and other neurologic disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or anxiety. The good news is that vertigo can be treated.
"Although vertigo can be caused by benign processes such as viral infection or migraines, it can, also, be a sign of more serious conditions such as a stroke and should be thoroughly evaluated by a medical physician," Dr. Bort added.
Physical therapy can improve vertigo symptoms over time
Both acute and chronic dizziness can be improved in many cases. My mom still has vertigo from time to time, although after first experiencing it, it just kind of went away. Kelsey said that some dizziness goes away without treatment, but there are things that you can do to help move it along more quickly.
She recommends contacting your primary care physician and discussing physical therapy as primary treatment, if they feel this is appropriate. If you regularly see an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist, this is also a great option.
Genetics can contribute
Since my mom was diagnosed with vertigo, I couldn't help but wonder if I could also get it one day. It turns out that some genetic factors can increase the odds you experience some type of dizziness in your lifetime. However, it is definitely not a 100% guarantee — whew!