A common cause of peripheral acute vertigo, Vestibular Neuritis is a condition characterized by a sudden onset of dizziness in a previously well, young or middle-aged individual. In the beginning, the vertigo is severe and then it subsides gradually over a period of several days or weeks. Apart from vertigo, another characteristic feature that’s used as a diagnostic criterion for Vestibular Neuritis is the absence of any cochlear symptoms, such as deafness and tinnitus (noise or ringing in the ear).
How Vestibular Neuritis Impacts Quality of Life
Vestibular Neuritis can significantly impact the quality of life of a patient, particularly in the initial stage which is characterized by frequent episodes of dizziness that may or may not be associated with vomiting. The condition can prove to be a hassle and prevents an individual from performing their day to day tasks.
Research shows that Vestibular Neuritis results in the interruption of daily activities in as many as 80 percent of patients, causing them to take a sick leave or visit a doctor. In addition to social and professional life, the condition also impacts mood and cognitive status. People with Vestibular Neuritis are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and difficulties in spatial memory and return to social and sports activities. Since balance difficulty is one of the characteristic symptoms of the condition, patients with Vestibular Neuritis are at a significantly higher risk of falling and suffering injuries.
How to Treat Vestibular Neuritis?
Considering the multidimensional effects of Vestibular Neuritis, it is important to seek expert medical care in order to relieve the symptoms and improve the quality of life of the affected individual. The treatment of Vestibular Neuritis comprises of:
- Management of Symptoms
The treatment of Vestibular Neuritis begins with the management and control of the common symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Most commonly, physicians prescribe an anti-emetic to relieve nausea and vomiting, as well as vestibular suppressants to prevent dizziness.
A period of rest is also advisable to prevent further injuries and speed up the rate of recovery.
- Balance Rehabilitation Program
The long-term management of Vestibular Neuritis focuses on the restoring the balance and preventing vertigo to prevent vestibular hypofunction causing chronic lightheadedness or dizziness with head & body movements. To achieve this objective, a vestibular physiotherapy program is recommended that uses a variety of exercises to retrain the brain of the affected individual to adapt to the changes in balance that they experience during an episode of dizziness. Most physiotherapists use the following exercises to restore the balance and reduce the risk of falling.
- Exercises to train patient on how to shift their body weight forward, backward, and side to side while standing
- Head turn exercises that teach patient how to keep their vision steady while making rapid head turns
- Exercises to train patient on how to keep their eyes focused on a distant point with brief glances at the floor while walking
For most patients, Vestibular Neuritis is a one-time experience with no long-term consequences. However, in order to limit the impact of the condition on the life of a patient, it is important to seek medical advice and practice different exercises recommended by an experienced physiotherapist.
To learn more about the treatment of Vestibular Neuritis or to book an appointment with our North York vestibular physiotherapist, please call at 416 444 4800.