| Thu, Apr 28, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

Sudden Onset Dizziness or Vertigo

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

sudden-onset-dizzinessHave you ever moved your head slightly and felt a sudden jolt of dizziness or a sensation like the room was spinning out of control? It may be an inner ear problem that’s causing havoc on your balance.

Dizziness and vertigo can be extremely debilitating — to the point of physical illness with symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, depression, lethargy, eye jerking, and balance problems so severe they cause falls from simply walking or getting up from a chair.

According to NIH Senior Health, balance problems are among the most common reasons that older adults seek help from a doctor. There are many types of balance disorders, especially those caused by an inner ear issue. Some of the most common include:

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

In BPPV, small calcium particles in the inner ear become dislodged and hit the inner ear balance sensors resulting in dizziness or severe vertigo. The reason they become dislodged may be caused by an inner ear infection, head injury or aging.


To maintain your body’s position, the labyrinth interacts with other systems in the body, such as the eyes, bones and joints. When the labyrinth becomes infected or swollen by an upper respiratory infection or other infection, it may cause vertigo and imbalance.

Ménière’s Disease

Ménière’s disease is a balance disorder that causes a person to experience vertigo, hearing loss that comes and goes, ringing or roaring in the ears, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. The cause is unknown.


Ototoxic drugs are medicines that damage the inner ear causing you to feel unbalanced. Sometimes the damage lasts only as long as you take the drug; other times it is permanent. Check with your doctor if you notice a problem while taking a medication.

There are several methods to treat balance disorders, including:

Physical Therapy: A physical therapist specially-trained in the vestibular system can create a treatment plan consisting of exercises involving head and body movements which can help decrease dizziness, increase balance function and increase general activity levels.  Treatments such as the Epley maneuver may also be used to treat balance problems.

Diet and Lifestyle: Your diet and lifestyle can help you manage certain balance-related problems. For example, Ménière’s disease is linked to a change in the volume of fluid in the inner ear. By eating a low-salt diet and avoiding caffeine and alcohol, you may help make the symptoms less severe. Balance problems due to high blood pressure may be managed by eating less salt, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising.

Sometimes balance problems are serious, as they can be a sign of health problems affecting other parts of the body. Balance problems can also cause falls and fall-related injuries in older people. If you are suffering from a balance problem, see your doctor right away.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


Live a Balanced Life — and Help Prevent Falls: MedicareMadeClear.com

About Balance Problems: NIHSeniorHealth.gov

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): Vestibular Disorders Association


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