Vertigo can be a debilitating condition that causes a person to feel extreme dizziness. This is often caused by inner ear problems, but certain studies have linked vertigo to alcohol consumption, especially in individuals with Ménière’s disease. It is essential to understand the connection between alcoholism and vertigo so that proper treatment can be achieved.
Table of Contents
- Understanding Vertigo
- Alcoholism: A Brief Overview
- How Alcoholism Affects the Vestibular System
- Connections Between Alcoholism and Vertigo
- Treatment for Patients with Alcoholism and Vertigo
- Seek Help for Alcoholism and Vertigo
Vertigo makes a person experience a dizzy sensation, which causes him or her to feel off-balance. Oftentimes, it stems from inner ear problems.
Causes and Symptoms of Vertigo
There are two kinds of vertigo.
- Peripheral Vertigo. This type occurs when there are issues with a person’s inner ear or the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain.
- Central Vertigo. This type is a result of issues with a person’s brain stem or cerebellum. It may be caused by multiple sclerosis, stroke, certain medications, or blood vessel disease.
Peripheral vertigo may be caused by conditions like benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Ménière’s disease, and vestibular neuritis. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is the sudden feeling of spinning. It may be brought on by changing the head’s position. For example, when an individual turns over or shifts his or her head up or down, feelings of nausea and unsteadiness occur. This can lead to balance problems that make it difficult to walk. Ménière’s disease is caused by excess fluid in the inner ear. A person with this disorder may feel nauseous, experience hearing loss, or lose balance. These symptoms may be severe and prevent an individual from completing normal activities. Certain cases lead to anxiety and depression. Vestibular neuritis is believed to be caused by a viral infection that inflames the cranial nerve. Symptoms include motor sensitivity, balance problems, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and the inability to control eye movements.
Alcoholism: A Brief Overview
Alcoholism is defined as a strong desire to consume alcohol on a regular basis. Alcohol dependency is uncontrollable and can bring negative health and emotional effects. Alcohol use disorder is the official term that describes a dangerous pattern of drinking.
There are certain criteria used to diagnose this problem. Individuals must demonstrate two or more characteristics over the course of the year.
- Drinking more alcohol than intended
- Having trouble limiting alcohol consumption
- Spending large portions of time acquiring, drinking, and recovering from alcohol consumption
- Experiencing cravings
- Suffering repercussions at work and home due to drinking
- Experiencing relationship problems due to drinking
- No longer participating in enjoyable activities due to drinking
- Doing dangerous activities like driving drunk or having unprotected sex
- Continuing to drink in the face of harm
- Becoming tolerant of alcohol, which means drinking more to receive the same buzz
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after drinking stops
Physical and Psychological Effects of Prolonged Alcohol Consumption
Scientists have concluded that alcohol can hamper the brain’s pathways. This alters the brain’s appearance and the way that it functions. As a result, a person who drinks may experience mood and behavioral changes. Also, it makes it difficult to coordinate bodily movements and to think clearly.
Individuals with alcohol problems may experience an increase in blood pressure, develop heart disease, or suffer from liver problems. Long-term memory may be hampered. The immune system may weaken as well.
Statistics Related to Alcohol Prevalence and Health Complications
Alcohol use disorders are very common in the United States. In fact, 10 percent of Americans suffer with issues related to excess consumption of alcohol. Each year, over 140,000 citizens die from the effects of alcohol. The World Health Organization has stated that alcohol misuse is a notable cause of disease in both men and women of all ages. Due to the high number of individuals who indulge in alcohol consumption, it is not shocking that more and more people are experiencing negative health complications.
How Alcoholism Affects the Vestibular System
The inner ear may be small, but it plays a key role in the body’s vestibular system. The inner ear contains the cochlea and is part of the sensory system that sends information to a person’s brain about motion and balance. When problems in this area are present, messages become distorted. This leads to dizziness and vertigo.
Alcohol’s Impact on the Vestibular System
Alcohol saturates the inner ear quickly, which disrupts the fluids in this area of the body. As a result, intoxication usually causes a person to become clumsy and to lose balance.
By nature, alcohol is quite dehydrating. Since the inner ear canals are filled with fluid, alcohol consumption may change these levels. When fluid is not balanced, signals to the brain become disrupted. This can lead to dizziness, poor balance, and nausea.
Connections Between Alcoholism and Vertigo
To repeat, heavy alcohol consumption causes changes the body’s inner ear fluids, which leads to feelings of imbalance. Usually, these effects are temporary. However, permanent brain injuries can form. For example, Wernicke’s encephalopathy is an injury that leads to brain damage. It is the result of a vitamin deficiency that is caused by the abuse of alcohol.
When a person experiences vertigo from consuming too much alcohol, it can cause dangerous falls. These falls may result in serious head injuries that can affect a person’s everyday life.
Often, people who misuse alcohol experience anxiety and depression. In fact, an individual may drink to avoid negative feelings. This begins a vicious cycle of abuse. Research shows that individuals with anxious and depressive episodes experience more frequent vertigo. When combined with alcohol, symptoms become worse.
Treatment for Patients with Alcoholism and Vertigo
Detox and Rehab for Alcohol Misuse
A person rarely drinks for the taste of alcohol. When a problem develops, it is essential to get to the root of the issue. The safest and most successful approach is rehabilitation that provides detox. Throughout the process, a patient’s body is rid of the substance. Also, the person uncovers his or her reasons for using alcohol as a crutch. With constant support and therapy, it is possible to learn healthier ways to deal with triggers. In the end, successful recovery can be enjoyed.
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy for Vertigo
When a person suffers from a vestibular injury, rehabilitation treatment may bring relief. Habituation exercises are helpful for an individual who experiences vertigo symptoms that occur from head movements. These types of exercises are repetitive and make a person’s brain ignore signals that bring symptoms. Balance training may be performed as well. Usually, this type of therapy lasts between 6 and 8 weeks.
Medications and Interventions that Improve Vertigo
Luckily, there are medicines available to help people with vertigo. When the condition results from an infection, steroids or antibiotics may be prescribed. These kinds of medications reduce swelling in the inner ear. If a person has Ménière’s disease, diuretics may be successful at lowering fluid pressure in the ear. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
Besides medication, there are interventions that may help to lower vertigo symptoms. For example, an individual should move slowly and take extra time to stand. This helps his or her equilibrium adjust without problems. Also, a person with active vertigo symptoms should remain sitting to avoid falls.
Taking a Holistic Approach
When dealing with vertigo and alcohol misuse issues, it is essential to take a holistic approach. This means combining physical, psychological, and social support strategies. The body is affected by both emotional and physical problems. Therefore, treatment for a person with alcoholism and vertigo must be approached from all angles.
Although many people are aware that alcohol has an effect on a person’s balance, they may not be aware that vertigo can become aggravated and bring devastating symptoms. It is vital to encourage loved ones who consume large quantities of alcohol to schedule regular medical check-ups. In severe cases of alcohol misuse, rehabilitation may help to uncover the root of the problem and to promote a healthier lifestyle. Support groups and community resources are useful tools as well.
Seek Help for Alcoholism and Vertigo
There is an established connection between vertigo and alcoholism. Both conditions can affect a person’s everyday life. When a person consumes large amounts of alcohol, it can cause or aggravate dizziness. It is crucial to seek an early diagnosis, receive helpful intervention, and complete a comprehensive form of treatment. When a loved one is affected with both of these issues, it is smart to provide guidance that leads to help. At Live Free Recovery Services, a person has access to a number programs that can help him or her enjoy a life sobriety and learn ways to lessen the symptoms of vertigo. To learn more, contact us today.