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  • Regaining Balance: The Need to Effectively Manage Vertigo

    Published on November 10, 2022

    • Vertigo, a balance disorder caused by inner ear problems, affects 1 in 10 people worldwide, with women 2 to 3 times more likely to be affected
    • Adherence to dietary & lifestyle changes and treatment aids vertigo management

    Kochi : Vertigo is a balance disorder typically caused by inner ear problems, resulting in a sudden, unpleasant sensation that makes an individual feel like the world is spinning. It disrupts the body’s vestibular system, which acts as an internal GPS and is responsible for maintaining balance. The dizziness can happen without warning, increasing the risk of falling and fractures. Vertigo is common, with 1 in 10 people across the world experiencing it in their lifetime. In India, the estimated vertigo prevalence is 0.71%, which amounts to over 9 million people. It is most observed in the elderly, with 30% of people over 60 years and 50% over 85 years of age affected. Moreover, women are two to three times more likely to be affected by vertigo.

    Routine tasks like moving around the house, grocery shopping, going to work are challenging with vertigo. It has far-reaching consequences on social interactions, with affected individuals inclined to stay at home, leading to a loss of independence and psychological effects like anxiety and depression.,

    This creates a vicious cycle, as a rise in anxiety and the circulating levels of the stress hormone–cortisoltrigger vertigo. It can also impact an individual’s work life, resulting in changing or giving up jobs, reduced efficiency and lost workdays, which can consequently have an economic impact on people.

    Despite its high prevalence, there is a lack of awareness about the condition. Individuals often ignore such daily issues as general dizziness, which makes vertigo diagnosis at the primary care level because dizziness as a symptom is difficult to describe and to standardize. Moreover, it can be hard to diagnose vertigo as its symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, are hard to distinguish from other conditions. Fortunately, vertigo can be treated with physical therapy, dietary changes and lifestyle adjustments, medication, psychotherapy, or even surgery in some cases. This includes vestibular rehabilitation exercises, customized to individual cases in consultation with one’s doctor. Hence, there is a need to increase awareness to aid early diagnosis and effective treatment options.

    Dr. M. Shwetha Shenoy, MS ENT, Consultant ENT and Neurotologist, AVENTI Speciality Clinic and VPS Lakeshore Hospital, Kochi commented, “In Kochi, we observe that 30 percent of our patients are those with balance disorders, where 50-60percent of cases have delayed diagnosis. Hence, awareness of vertigo needs to be heightened so individuals can seek help at the earliest. This is especially important as it can be a symptom of various health conditions, impact everyday life and lead to potentially serious consequences and conditions including fractures or falls. Adherence to combined exercise-based and medical treatment may be beneficial to help individuals improve their lifestyle.”

    Dr Parag Sheth, Regional Medical Director, Abbott India said, “While vertigo is a debilitating condition that can greatly impact an individual’s life, it can be managed with appropriate care.At Abbott, we are committed to raising vertigo awareness and offering trusted solutions. Thus, we are providing educational materials including video tutorials of vestibular exercises to help people proactively manage their condition. This can empower them to move forward with confidence, so they can regain their balance and live fuller, healthier lives.”

    Lifestyle solutions can improve symptoms, but at the same time, many people with vertigo do not stick to prescribed treatments. Adherence of medication schedules and following doctor’s advice is also necessary for reducing the number and severity of attacks. This can help people keep their vertigo in check, supporting them on their path to recovery.

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