Although it is not common, vertigo can occur during perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Here’s what every woman should know about this possible symptom and how to manage it.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is a symptom, not a disease or condition, in which individuals feel like they or their surroundings are spinning or moving. The feeling can be mild and just annoying or so severe it is impossible to stand or live a normal life. Each episode may last just a few seconds or as long as several days. The spinning feeling may be accompanied by tinnitus, hearing loss, nausea, dizziness, and loss of balance.
Among the cause of vertigo are migraine, inner ear infections (labyrinthitis), inflammation of the vestibular nerve (which is in the inner ear; aka vestibular neuronitis), and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), in which certain head movements trigger the spinning feeling. BPPV is the most common cause of recurring vertigo, as it affects more than 420 million adults around the world.
How is vertigo associated with menopause?
Several research studies have noted that perimenopausal and menopausal women may be especially susceptible to experiencing vertigo. More specifically, in a 2014 report, the authors noted that “hormonal fluctuations may increase the tendency to develop BPPV.”
In a later study (2020), investigators proposed that “the existence of estrogen receptors in the inner ear” and several other situations such as osteoporosis and estrogen deficiency could be behind the development of BPPV in perimenopausal women.
How can you manage vertigo in menopause naturally?
A few lifestyle modifications as well as a few exercises may help you manage vertigo.
- A series of simple head movements, known as the Epley maneuver, is effective in relieving BPPV. This maneuver can be done at home, but it’s suggested you have your healthcare provider show you the proper way to do it. Typically the maneuver needs to be done three times a day until the symptoms have disappeared for 24 hours.
- A maneuver very similar to the Epley is Semont-Toupet, which requires less neck flexibility. Like the Epley, it can be done at home once you learn the technique.
- If the Epley maneuver or Semont-Toupet don’t help or you have back or neck problems, then try Brandt-Daroff exercises. You can do these at home once you are instructed by a healthcare professional. Generally they are done three or four times daily for two consecutive days.
- Vestibular rehabilitation is another option. A physiotherapist, audiologist, or general practitioner can help with this therapy. This technique involves retraining the nerves in your brain to rely on the signals from your eyes and legs rather than the mixed signals from your inner ear. This retraining helps reduce dizziness.
- The herb ginkgo biloba can be as effective as betahistine, a medication used to treat vertigo. In one study, a comparison of the two treatments showed that 240 mg of ginkgo biloba daily for 12 weeks reduced vertigo symptoms as effectively as did betahistone, but was better tolerated.
- When an episode occurs, it’s recommended you lie still in a dark, quiet room until it passes
- Avoid looking upwards, don’t put things on high shelves, do not use ladders, and get out of bed slowly.
- Be sure to practice stress-reduction, because tension and anxiety can make symptoms worse
when to see your doctor
If your vertigo persists and challenges your ability to go about your normal daily routine, then you should see your physician. Because many other factors or health problems are related to dizziness, these possibilities should be explored so you can find the most appropriate solution.
Vertigo can develop during the transitional years of perimenopause all the way to postmenopause. BPPV is the most common type of vertigo experienced, and it can be managed naturally using a variety of techniques.