Last week during lunch, I heard two middle-age girlfriends describe an issue that they started dealing with during middle age - vertigo. That was a condition that I hadn’t seen before so I decided to do a little research on this condition.
Researchers suggest that vertigo may emerge around the time women go through menopause. One study out of Japan looked at the characteristics of menopausal-associated vertigo. This study involved 413 women who were between the ages of 40 and 59 years of age. Each of the participants complained of vertigo. Of this group, 73 had menopausal symptoms while 340 did not have symptoms of menopause.
The researchers’ analysis found that 56 percent of the menopause group was diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) while 17 percent had Meniere’s disease. The scientists also found that the percentage of participants who had BPPV was almost the same ratio between the group that had menopause symptoms (56 percent) and the group that did not have these symptoms (52 percent). However, the percentage of participants who had Meniere’s disease was much higher in the menopausal group (17 percent) than the group that didn’t have menopausal symptoms (9 percent).
However, much of what I read suggests that vertigo is more a factor of aging. "In general vertigo is not typically caused by menopause itself. However, menopause may put you at risk for developing some of the more common causes of vertigo," according to physicians on ZocDocAnswers.com.
Based on the Japanese research, I wanted to share a little bit more about the two main types of vertigo, BPPV and Meniere’s disease.
BPPV is one of the most common causes of this condition. "Although benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be a bothersome problem, it’s rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls," the Mayo Clinic stated. BPPV causes a person to experience brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. Symptoms are triggered by specific changes in the position of a woman’s head as well as abnormal rhythmic eye movements.
The balance also may be affected while standing or walking. Symptoms include lightheadedness, unsteadiness, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms may last less than one minute. Episodes of this type of vertigo may disappear for a period of time and then recur. And doctors often can’t identify a specific cause for BPPV, although it may be associated with a blow to the head, damage to the inner ear, migraine headaches, or laying for
a prolonged period on your back.
If diagnosed with BPPV, your treatment options include canalith repositioning, which involves maneuvering the head to move particles from the inner ear canals into another part of the ear. Other lifestyle options include sitting down immediately, using good lighting, and doing physical therapy.
Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that causes spontaneous episodes of a sensation of spinning as well as ringing in the ear, a feeling of pressure in the ear and fluctuating hearing loss. While this condition can occur at any age, people who are middle-aged are more likely to develop it. The cause is believed to be abnormal volume or composition of the fluid located in the inner ear. Researchers believe that potential triggers include migraines, allergies, viral infection, head trauma and abnormal immune response.
Treatments for Meniere’s disease include motion sickness medications, anti-nausea medications hearing aids, middle ear injections, dietary changes (limit salt, eat regularly and avoid monosodium glutamate), avoid caffeine, don’t smoke, manage stress, avoid allergens, and prevent migraine. Additionally, you should sit or lie down when you feel dizzy and then don’t’ rush to return to normal activities. Also be careful when driving an automobile or using heavy machinery.
Primary Source for This Sharepost:
Mayo Clinic. (2012). Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.
Mayo Clinic. (2012). Meniere’s disease.
Owada, S., et al. (2012). Clinical evaluation of vertigo in menopausal women. PubMed.gov.
ZocDoc.com. (nd). Can menopause trigger vertigo?
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.