Vertigo is a symptom, rather than a condition itself, when you feel as if you, or the environment around you, is moving or spinning.
Vertigo is usually caused by a problem with the balance mechanism in the inner ear, although it can also be caused by problems in certain parts of the brain. Causes of vertigo may include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), where particular head movements trigger vertigo, migraines, inner ear infections (labyrinthitis) and inflammation of the vestibular nerve (vestibular neuronitis).
Conventional treatment of vertigo includes medication and vestibular rehabilitation training (VRT). Depending on what’s causing your vertigo, there may be simple things you can do to help relieve your symptoms, such as getting up very slowly and moving slowly.
ABOUT Ménière’s DISEASE
Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance. It is characterised by episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss. The hearing loss comes and goes for some time, alternating between ears, then becomes permanent with no return to normal function.
The exact cause of Ménière’s disease is unknown, but it’s thought to be caused by a problem with pressure deep inside the ear. Having a family history of Ménière’s disease increases your risk of developing the disease. Sufferers may also experience stress, anxiety and depression.
Recent research has found that Ménière’s disease may potentially be influenced and worsened by obstructive sleep apnoea, and that risk factors for reduced vascular function in the brain such as smoking, migraines, and atherosclerosis may play a role in triggering attacks.
Conventional treatments for Ménière’s disease include medication, dietary advice – particularly a low-salt diet, physiotherapy to help with balance, sound therapy for tinnitus and hearing aids for hearing loss.
Acupuncture for Vertigo & Menieres Disease
A World Health Organization review and analysis of controlled acupuncture clinical trials (2003) lists Ménière’s disease among “conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed”. More recent studies and systematic reviews of acupuncture for Ménière’s syndrome suggest that acupuncture has beneficial effects for both acute and chronic phases of the disease and for the treatment of chronic cervical vertigo. Acupuncture may help relieve vertigo by:
- Activating specific brain functions
- Increasing blood flow in the vertebral-basilar artery, thus improving blood flow to the brain
- Increasing the production of endorphins and neuropeptides which affect negative sensory states
- Reducing inflammation
- Increasing local circulation and reducing swelling
Acupuncture has also been shown to stimulate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system and thus reduce stress and anxiety. Acupuncture affects the brain’s mood chemistry and may be helpful in treating depression associated with vertigo.
Judy Bowen-Jones Lic Ac BSc Hons Ac MBAcC
Maciocia, G. 2005. The Practice of Chinese Medicine. Dizziness. 60-66. Churchill Livingstone
Research Fact Sheets
For more information see the British Acupuncture Council Research Fact Sheet below.