Breathing exercises for vertigo

The body balances itself using the very delicate coordination of three different organs. These three organs are; the eyes, the legs & other sensory organs, & the inner ear. The eyes feed any visual information regarding the change in the body’s position to the brain, the inner ear provides information about the body’s position in space relative to gravity, & the legs & other movement organs follow the directions given by the brain. 

Proper coordination between the three systems is crucial to ensure that your body stays balanced in space. Any misfires or an issue with any of the three systems can result in falls, dizziness, & general unsteadiness, and imbalance. Vertigo is one such balance disorder that arises out of an inner ear issue or a problem with how the brain processes balance information received from the three organ systems. 

People with vertigo often feel as if their surroundings are spinning or moving out of control, & that they are generally unable to maintain balance & position in space. Vertigo is majorly of two types; central vertigo, & the more common peripheral vertigo. While central vertigo is due to a problem with the brain or the central nervous system, peripheral vertigo arises out of an inner ear issue.

The inner ear issues can include:

  • BPPV, or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
  • Inner ear infections like Vestibular Neuritis or labyrinthitis
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Other ear infections

While central vertigo is more chronic in nature & needs extensive medical attention, peripheral vertigo tends to last in short bursts of time. The attacks also come on suddenly & last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. 

Peripheral vertigo is also easily treatable by treating the underlying cause of the vertigo.

For example, if your vertigo is due to an inner ear issue like BPPV, labyrinthitis, Vestibular Neuritis, or Meniere’s Disease, then your doctor will focus on treating the underlying inner ear problem.

Chances are, the vertigo symptoms will eventually go away too once the actual issue is resolved. Regardless of what causes your vertigo however, there are certain factors that can either worsen or lessen the severity of your vertigo symptoms, depending on if you indulge in them or not. A lack of sleep, dehydration, excessive stress, & bad eating habits can all exacerbate already existing vertigo symptoms & other vestibular disorders. 

This is why, aside from traditional dizziness treatment & exercises for vertigo, your doctors might also suggest some breathing exercises, meditation, & other stress-relieving activities for you. This helps take off the added burden of stress from your life & help you focus on treating your vertigo wholly.

In this article, we’ll tell you what the relationship between vertigo & stress is, what are some breathing exercises that you can do to relieve your stress & aid in quick & efficient vertigo treatment.

How does stress affect vertigo?

When we are under stress & extreme anxiety, our body activates what is called the primal ‘fight-or-flight’ mechanism. This is a reflex mechanism that basically prepares our body for upcoming combat & a potentially life-threatening situation. It helps us prepare for any upcoming dangers by increasing our heart rate, making us more alert, making us sweat more, & slowing down all the other ‘non-essential’ functions of the body.

It’s interesting to note that the same system that activates the ‘fight-or-flight’ response in the body, is the same one that controls all the automatic reflexes of the body. When this mechanism is activated, it makes your body come under a state of emergency which prevents you from getting severely injured or hurt. But it also makes you feel dizzy, nauseous, anxious, & lightheaded, thus contributing to your vertigo symptoms. 

In fact, people who are under unusual amounts of stress & tension tend to feel almost twice as dizzy & nauseous as people who are more emotionally balanced & controlled during a vertigo attack. Hence, it’s safe to say that when you are under stress & generally anxious, you not only risk triggering your vertigo attacks but also experiencing even more difficulty during those than if you were not so worked up emotionally.

Vertigo and Dizziness treatment:

Vertigo & dizziness treatment usually depends on the exact cause of your symptoms. As we discussed above, it mostly includes exercises for vertigo, vertigo medications, & in some cases, surgery.  In addition to these, certain lifestyle changes like getting proper sleep, drinking plenty of water, limiting caffeine & alcohol intake, & reducing the amount of salt in your diet, are all conducive to efficient dizziness treatment. The vertigo exercises that your doctor will prescribe to you include the Epley Maneuver, the Brandt-Daroff exercises, & the Semont Maneuver to name a few. They might also include some breathing exercises in the mix to help you destress & relax a bit.

The alternative stress reduction & stress management exercises for vertigo include:

  • Controlled breathing
  • Muscle Relaxation exercises
  • Thought control
  • Stress management
  • Symptom control exercises
  • Stress reduction exercises

Depending on the exact symptoms you’re experiencing, along with the kind of lifestyle you lead, you may be prescribed different breathing exercises for vertigo. 

We’ll talk about some of these below.

Controlled Breathing:

Controlled breathing is helpful for everyone, regardless of whether they suffer from vertigo.

In vertigo patients, it helps ease the feelings of dizziness & nausea that come along with a vertigo attack, & gives their bodies some time to calm down for a bit. Controlled breathing can also help you feel less anxious & slow down your heart rate during an anxiety attack or a vertigo episode.  To do these, you simply need to follow the steps below.

  • Sit in a calm, safe spot away from any loud noises, sounds of the TV, & everyday hustle & bustle. 
  • Close your eyes & try to focus on your natural breathing.  
  • Inhale through your nose, taking in a deep breath, & hold it for about 10 seconds. 
  • Focus on yourself & how you’re feeling throughout the exercise instead of letting your mind drift away into other thoughts.
  • Release the breath slowly & give yourself some time to breathe normally.
  • Perform the same action again as many times as you’re comfortable. 

Also, if you often feel out of breath or find yourself gasping & panting for no apparent reason, controlled breathing exercises can greatly help you. They help your lungs retain more oxygen as you slowly breathe in & out, as well as relax your heart muscles over time.  

Muscle Relaxation:

Vertigo & anxiety-induced dizziness often comes with tense, soar muscles. Relaxation exercises like:

  • gently rolling your shoulders, 
  • sitting in one place while breathing in & out, 
  • performing the child’s pose, or 
  • Simply laying down on your bed & closing your eyes while listening to music, can all greatly help relax your muscles.

Try performing relaxation exercises once in the morning as soon as you wake up, once in the middle of the day at work, & once before sleeping at night. Following this schedule of exercises will greatly help improve your muscle stiffness & allow you to become more calm & relaxed.

Thought Control:

One great thing about our brain is that it is able to manifest what we think about constantly.

This means, that if you spend a majority of your time thinking about how your symptoms are making you miserable & holding you back, then you will continue to experience those symptoms full force. Instead of focusing on your symptoms too much, try thinking about how much vertigo & dizziness treatment methods have helped you bring your life back into control.

Think about what great support systems you have in place in form of understanding friends & family, & other management therapies you use to control your vertigo & dizziness.

Doing this will create a positive feedback loop which will further help in relaxing you & lightening up your mood. 

Stress management exercises:

You can perform this however you like. The core principle remains the same whichever way you choose to perform these exercises. You need to figure out a way to avoid the daily stressors by dedicating a fixed chunk of your time towards an activity that you absolutely love. If it means you need to take time out from your busy schedule to read your favorite book, watch your favorite TV show, water the plants, play with your pets, or simply stare off into the distance while sipping a cup of tea, do it.  You can also try performing activities like dancing, knitting, writing poetry, or making plans for the future, as a way to reduce stress in your everyday life. 

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