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Expert Advice: Why Am I So Dizzy?

It's a common symptom over age 65.

As we mature, we know to expect deeper wrinkles, a little forgetfulness, and perhaps some joint pain. Yet there’s another common symptom of aging that we don’t expect to endure: vertigo. Indeed, some sources estimate that it’s the most common complaint among people over 65. While there are many different factors that can cause vertigo, there are a few common types, including something called paroxysmal positional vertigo. To better understand this condition and how to treat it at home, read below for expert advice from Dr. Heather Moday.

Meet our expert.

Heather Moday, MD, is director of the Moday Center in Philadelphia. She is board-certified in allergy and immunology, as well as integrative and holistic medicine. You can follow her on Instagram (@theimmunitymd), where she shares information on health topics. And to ask her a question here, send an email to health@firstforwomen.com.

Dizziness After 65

Q: I’m 67 and healthy, but lately I’ve been having intense dizzy spells: Everything spins when I move my head quickly. These episodes don’t last long, but they’re scary! What could be causing this?

A: This sounds like benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, a condition that occurs when tiny calcium crystals inside the inner ear get dislodged and interfere with the vestibular system, which controls balance. It’s common in women your age: As many as 70 percent of women over 65 have experienced vertigo. And it’s common at this time of year, as changes in temperature and barometric pressure can cause these crystals to shift, triggering episodes. Thankfully, there are ways to tame your symptoms and ward off dizzy spells.

The next time you feel dizzy, try lying down with your head on a pillow and fixing your eyes on something stationary to help the vertigo pass more quickly. I also recommend supplementing daily with 240 milligrams of ginkgo biloba. The plant extract boosts blood flow to the inner ears, which is the same way prescription medications for vertigo work. In fact, researchers reporting in the International Journal of Otolaryngology found ginkgo was just as effective as these drugs for the participants, but didn’t bring any of the pesky side effects like headaches and bloat.

Finally, try an at-home head positioning exercise called the Epley maneuver, which helps shift dislodged calcium crystals back into place. Researchers at the University of Colorado found that doing the exercise eliminated dizziness completely for 90 percent of people experiencing bouts of vertigo. Search “Epley maneuver self-treatment” on YouTube for instructional videos. Tip: Have someone nearby when you try it, as it may temporarily throw off your balance.

Note from FIRST: The University of Colorado researchers said that the Epley maneuver is hard to self-apply because it may cause severe vertigo during the exercise. As such, they recommend the half-somersault maneuver, demonstrated here.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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