One of the keys to solving the most complex cases of dizziness and vertigo is to gather and analyze evidence.
In vertigo cases, evidence is the description of symptoms and the response to treatments.
In order for a case of dizziness or vertigo to be solved, the clues that need to be gathered include all of the following:
- When did symptoms first start
- What were you doing when you first noticed the symptoms
- What were the circumstances leading up to the first episode
- How often has it occurred since then
- What time of day
- During what activity
- How long did the symptoms last during each episode
- How severe were the symptoms during each episode (scaled 0-10, with 10 indicating a medical emergency)
- Medical consultations and diagnostic tests have you had so far, and what did they find
- Treatments have you tried so far and what effect did they have
- What makes you feel better
- What makes you feel worse
- Other symptoms were present with the dizziness or vertigo. Other symptoms may include: nausea, vomiting, headache, hearing loss, ear noises, blurred vision, slurred speech, loss of balance, bumping into walls, unstable walking, falling down, fear of falling, anxiety, panic attack, sweaty, clammy, cold/ chills, numbness or tingling, etc.
- If you experienced ear noises with the onset of symptoms, be specific about whether it sounds like ringing, rushing, roaring, whistling, or pulsing
- Regarding hearing loss with the onset of symptoms, be specific about whether your hearing returned back to normal after the initial onset, stayed the same ever since, or continued to get worse over time
- If you lost your balance and fell, list any injuries from the fall
Document the Data
I encourage all vertigo sufferers to keep a detailed symptoms record, including what they are doing when it happens, how bad it is, how long it lasts, what seems to make it better, what seems to make it worse and how long they have in between episodes.
Those are the symptoms that need to be recorded for evidence and analysis, in order to solve the most complex cases of vertigo.
The description of your dizziness, such a swirls, spins, fog, floaty, fuzzy, etc is not as important as the data I described above.
Many people have trouble describing their experience of dizziness or vertigo, which leads to frustration for patients and confusion for providers.
If you can easily find the words to describe what you felt, then you can include that. But I caution you not to spend too much time searching for the descriptors. Spend more time gathering the information I suggest above.
Even if all you say is you felt “dizzy,” your Vertigo Expert should get a good start on analyzing your case with that data set.
Find a Vertigo Expert
Once I consult with a private patient, family member or cargiver, I instruct them to keep a symptom record as I described above and then contact me with that information if the vertigo symptoms are not fully resolved or recur in the future.
Since I have trained and mentored hundreds of physical therapists on their most complex cases of patients with dizziness and vertigo, I have gotten very skilled at solving vertigo cases based on the symptom record alone.
Based on symptoms alone, I am usually able to determine what else needs to be assessed, make recommendations on what types of interventions or specialists would be of the most benefit, and what the patient can do on their own to manage their uncomfortable symptoms.
I can only offer individual medical advice to patients I have examined in person.
Advocate for Yourself
However, I encourage you to present your case to your healthcare provider using the format that I have described above.
That information will fast-track your care and start an efficient relationship with your Vertigo Doctor.
For more information on How to Prepare for a Healthcare Visit, click here.
Check out Common Vertigo Triggers on this blog.
For Tips on Choosing the Right Healthcare provider, click here.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.
My first symptom of dizziness and loss of balance happened 3 weeks ago when I got up at 6:00 am from being seated for hours with my head resting on the armchair (been doing this for weeks because of extreme acid reflux), and the symptoms have not disappeared. Balance is off specially when I turn a corner. It lasts practically all day. I continued my daily walks but had to stop because of feeling I was about to fall or trip. There is no spinning. My PCP checked my balance, and noted my unsteady gait. Ordered CT of the brain on June 12. My eye doctor did not see anything wrong, upgraded my glasses since I was also complaining of blurred vision. Two days ago I tried epley again and there was a marked improvement but symptoms came back after a day. Every time I do epley I feel better for a while but then again they eventually come back. I need a more permanent solution.