Promoting Good Habits For Patients Diagnosed with Vestibular Issues
In one of our earlier blogs, we talked about vestibular rehab and relearning balance. But a recent discussion with a colleague brought to mind one of the easiest ways to avoid dizziness or compounding vestibular issues in the first place: good self-care and awareness of potentially harmful habits.
Brianna Pelton, a colleague from a Seattle-based physical therapy office, specializes in vestibular diagnoses, told us that she recently had several senior patients who came to her clinic with a diagnosis of vestibular issues. They’d both been referred by their primary care physicians, and during the initial interview, she asked standard self-care questions and discovered that neither of these gentlemen was in the habit of drinking any water. She also found that neither of them was in the practice of ever having anything to eat before lunch.
Once they increased their fluid intake and began to eat regular meals, their dizziness issues disappeared.
While not all situations are so easy to solve, the story reminded us how easy it is to miss the most basic solutions for serious problems. Low blood sugar and dehydration are two of the top ten causes of dizziness.
Why doctors miss it
One would think that the primary care physician would be able to catch something like low blood sugar or dehydration easily, but that isn’t always the case and here’s why: PCP’s are incredibly busy, have only a short time to interview a patient, and they don’t always ‘connect the dots.’ It’s easy to miss.
Why patients become dehydrated
Sometimes, aging causes changes which aren’t readily noticeable. As people age, their cells break down and don’t function as well as before. Their sense of thirst isn’t as acute, so, if they’re lonely or depressed, the drag of dehydration can easily be mistaken for depression or sadness. Instead of getting up and having a glass of water, they may doze in their recliner, instead.
Low blood sugar
Seniors often have less appetite than they did in their younger years. When they live alone, the temptation is strong not to bother cooking meals. Also, they have dental problems such as poor-fitting dentures or bad teeth; it’s easy to avoid negotiating food, particularly fibrous food, which is problematic because it needs to be carefully chewed.
Medications can cause loss of appetite, which can then create low blood sugar and make a patient dizzy. This behavior pattern can become a vicious, repetitive problem, so a patient will think the medication makes him dizzy, rather than the low blood sugar due to his loss of appetite.
While the confines of this discussion are very limited, it’s worth considering during the treatment of a person with dizziness and balance issues that their problems may be exacerbated by certain habits which may not be evident at the outset. Patients who are being treated for vestibular matters should take great care to manage their food and fluid intake to avoid exacerbating balance and dizziness issues.
If you are looking for occupational or physical therapy, vestibular rehab, wheelchair training, learning to walk, unweighting, or other services in the Phoenix area, please call Touchstone Rehabilitation at 602-277-1073.