If you suffer from dizziness/balance disorder, here are some things that you should know:
Q. How common is vertigo/dizziness?
A. Various studies report that dizziness is among the top three complaints encountered in the primary care setting, (with headaches and low back pain).
Q. What is the typical clinical scenario in managing the dizzy patient?
A. Currently, 50% of patients seen in the primary care setting receive no diagnosis for their complaints of dizziness, yet 70% receive a prescription for a vestibular suppressant.
Q. Are vestibular suppressants effective for treating dizziness?
A. With side affects including drowsiness, lethargy, reduced reaction time and a deleterious effect on the natural recovery process from vestibular insult, capricious use of vestibular suppressant therapy is highly ineffective and typically more harmful than therapeutic. Further, these same patients may actually experience greater symptoms as suppressant drugs may hinder the vestibular function at a time when the patient may need it most.
Q. Are vestibular suppressants safe for treating dizziness?
A. Vestibular suppressants have a slowing effect on reaction time equal to a blood alcohol level of .04 to .06. Reduced reaction time is a leading cause of falls in the elderly. Falls lead to over 200,000 hip fractures per year in the U.S. Nearly 50% of elderly patients admitted for hip fractures become chronic patients. Nearly 50% of elderly patients admitted for hip fractures die within one year.
Q. What is unique about your approach to managing vertiginous patients?
A. As with any disorder, a thorough history and examination is of utmost importance. You cannot tell much by spending five or ten minutes with a patient. Following examination, typically specialized testing is appropriate for these patients. Our office is equipped with state of the art video nystagmography, which is a non-invasive, non-painful procedure now used to track eye movements, which can be correlated to the cause of the problem, from which an efficacious treatment plan can be proposed.
Q. My dizziness is severe, doesn’t that mean that I must have a severe problem?
A. No. Conversely, the opposite is typically the case. Similar to headaches, the more ominous causes are rare and the most severe forms are typically benign.
Q. How successful is your office at treating patients with balance problems?
A. Our office has a very high success rate with patients suffering with dizziness. Also, recovery can often be quick once the correct diagnosis has been made.