You may be shocked to learn that children as well as adults suffer from vertigo. In fact, as many as 5 percent of those who are age 17 and under in the United States have problems with dizziness or balance. For some reason, girls seem to have a slightly higher incidence of these problems (5.7 percent for girls and 5 percent for boys). These statistics were obtained by the National Health Interview Survey, Child Balance Supplement. The data also showed that an increase in age contributed to more dizzy spells. In addition, non-Hispanic white children were more susceptible to vertigo (6.1 percent) compared to Hispanic (4.6 percent) and non-Hispanic black children (4.3 percent).
The findings in the study indicate that dizziness, vertigo, and other balance problems are quite common among children. Some underlying causes for this can be ear infections, developmental motor coordination disorder, genetic causes, head or neck injuries, concussions, side effects of medications, headaches or migraines, vision problems, malformation of the ear, genetic causes, neurological problems, or metabolic problems.
Some children were seen to be at greater risk than others. For example, those with hearing problems had twice as many problems with dizziness and vertigo compared to those with normal hearing. Also, those with stuttering, ADD, and ADHD are seen to have more dizziness in boys. Those with anemia, hearing problems, and respiratory allergies were linked to dizziness and vertigo in girls.
What Is Vertigo and How Does It Affect Children?
When children experience vertigo, they may feel as if they themselves are spinning around, or it may seem as if the things around them are spinning about. They may also experience a tilting sensation. Your child may have this feeling if they have a cold or an ear infection. The congestion from these conditions can press on the inner ear, part of the vestibular system which controls balance. However, if your child is having repeated attacks of vertigo, it is probably due to other illnesses or conditions.
Vertigo can be scary to a child, and it may be hard for him or her to express their feelings to you due to their age. If your child is acting clumsy, nauseated, or you notice his or her eyes darting back and forth, it is a good idea to seek care from a professional. This can be a sign of a more serious issue and may cause your child injuries because of a disruption in balance and coordination.
Causes of Vertigo
Vertigo may occur whether or not your child has an eardrum problem. It is true that a problem with the eardrum may lead to dizziness because the body’s sense of balance comes from the inner ear and the vestibular system. If it is an eardrum problem causing vertigo, this is probably a minor illness that can easily be cared for.
There are other bodily systems that can be to blame for vertigo. Depending on the exact cause, vertigo can be very persistent. Sometimes just moving the head can cause a child to experience vertigo. Some causes of vertigo are listed below:
- Concussion or head trauma
- Small bone-like particles floating in the inner ear (residue from a concussion or infection)
- Middle ear infection
- Middle ear effusion (thick fluid collects behind the eardrum with no infection present)
- Inner ear infections including labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis
- Aspirin and similar nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- A brain tumor
- Meniere’s disease
- Low blood pressure
- Autoimmune disorders (multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes)
- Visual problems
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV
Symptoms of Vertigo in Children
While it may be hard for your child to tell you exactly what is going on, he or she may exhibit some of the following signs indicating vertigo:
- Unusual awkwardness and clumsiness
- Having poor balance
- Dizziness brought on by a change in the position of their head (turning the head or standing up from lying down)
- Complaining of feeling dizzy (a feeling of being on a merry-go-round, feeling like the room is spinning or tilting, or having motion sickness)
- Unusual clumsiness, poor balance, or awkwardness
- Inability to tolerate movement
- Complaining of ringing in the ears (tinnitus), a feeling of congestion in the ear, or ear pain
- Hearing loss
- A fever over 100 degrees
- Collapsing or blacking out
- Delayed motor milestones, such as slowness to hold the head up, stand, or walk
- Loss of fine or gross motor skills
- Wanting to lay still
- Nystagmus — eyes darting back and forth.
Finding Help for Vertigo in Children (and Adults)
Dr. Erin Elster, an upper cervical chiropractor, observed 60 patients who had been diagnosed with vertigo. Each of these patients received an upper cervical chiropractic adjustment to their atlas bone (the top bone of the spine). As a result, 48 of them saw their vertigo go away entirely. The rest reported a major improvement in their symptoms.
If your child has a misalignment in the top bone of the neck, he or she may be experiencing vertigo because of this. A misalignment can occur easily in children. Simply the birthing process can put the neck at risk for misaligning. Tripping and falling while learning to walk or ride a bike can contribute to a misaligned bone in the neck. It only takes a ¼ of a millimeter misalignment to cause problems in the body. The atlas bone protects the delicate brainstem. If it misaligns, the brainstem is put under stress and begins sending improper signals to the brain. It may tell the brain that the body is in motion when it is not, thus causing vertigo.
We use a gentle, low-force method that is safe for children and infants as well. Your child will barely feel the adjustment. We do not crack or pop the neck. Rather, we encourage the bones to move back into place naturally. This often leads to a reduction in vertigo symptoms.
if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.