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Feeling Dizzy? Vertigo Is A Lot More Common Than You Think

October 20, 2017

As LeBron James begins his quest for a fourth NBA title this week, it’s not only the Golden State Warriors he’ll be battling.

James joins a long list of athletes and celebrities, including golfer Todd Day and Academy Award-winning actor Nicholas Cage, who have gone public with their medical condition. In 2013, after being accused by opposing players of “flopping”— intentionally falling to make officials believe he was fouled — James admitted he suffered from  benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), one of the most common causes of vertigo.

Vertigo, a sensation of motion or whirling, is dizziness typically caused by irregularities within the vestibular portion of the inner ear.  Not all episodes of dizziness are vertigo. But dizziness is a common symptom that can include lightheadedness and unsteadiness — The Hartford HealthCare Dizzy Clinic sees more than 900 patients a year, diagnosing and treating numerous causes of dizziness.

“Dizziness accounts for an estimated 5 percent to 6 percent of physician visits and affects about 40 percent of those over 40 at some time,” said Dr. Marc Eisen, the clinic’s director. “Dizziness is typically treatable, but it is important for your doctor to help you determine the cause so that the correct treatment is implemented.”

Causes of dizziness are so varied — from low blood pressure and migraines to inner-ear disorders — that diagnosis and treatment can be a challenge. Vertigo, depending on the patient, can occur rarely or regularly in either mild or intense forms. Among the causes of vertigo are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis, vestibular migraine, and Ménière’s disease. Less common causes include multiple sclerosis, acoustic neuromas and exposure to ototoxic medications.

“Patients at the Dizzy Clinic get a special battery of tests using cutting-edge technology to give them a diagnosis and treatment plan in a single visit,” said Eisen. “The good news is that there are treatments, from physical therapy to surgery — that can provide relief from these debilitating disorders.”

Dr. Eisen and The Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute will host a free seminar on signs and treatment for vertigo on Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Heublein Hall, Education and Resource Center at 560 Hudson Street in Hartford. Registration is required.  Call 855.HHC.HERE or visit the Hartford HealthCare Classes & Events page.