Living With Vertigo: Daily Tips and Lifestyle Changes

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is an illusory sensation of motion of either the self or the surroundings in the absence of true motion. The two different types of vertigo are peripheral and central. Peripheral vertigo is much more common and typically involves a problem within the part of the inner ear that controls balance or a problem with the vestibular nerve. These conditions include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuronitis, labyrinthitis, Meniere’s disease, or acoustic neuroma. Central vertigo can be more serious and occurs when there is a problem in the brainstem or the cerebellum. These conditions include blood vessel disease, alcohol intoxication, multiple sclerosis, seizures, stroke, tumors, or vestibular migraines.  Learn how to live with vertigo.

 Red Flags of Vertigo

As a general rule of thumb, it is always best to see your primary care provider to help you figure out which type of vertigo you have and how to properly treat it. However, a few red flags to be aware of that may indicate a more serious central vertigo condition include difficulty swallowing, double vision, eye movement problems, facial paralysis, slurred speech, or weakness of limbs. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be having a health emergency and should seek medical care as soon as possible.  

 What Can You Do For Vertigo?

If you are not experiencing any of the above symptoms, but rather you feel as if the room is spinning, especially when changing positions, you’re experiencing hearing loss, having trouble focusing the eyes, nausea, ringing in the ears, or loss of balance, it is safe to go directly to a Physical Therapist for treatment. In many cases, BPPV can be resolved within only a few treatment sessions. However, if you are someone who experiences recurring BPPV or has been diagnosed with vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis, or Meniere’s disease, here are some things you can do at home in addition to attending Physical Therapy to decrease your symptoms and navigate daily life with more confidence.  

 Hydration for Dizziness

Many times, dizziness can simply be caused by dehydration. If you are dehydrated, you will likely describe your dizziness as being lightheaded rather than feeling as if the room is spinning. When you are dehydrated, your blood volume is reduced, lowering your blood pressure and causing a decrease in blood getting to the brain, causing lightheadedness. In general, it is recommended that healthy men drink at least 3 liters per day and healthy women drink at least 2 liters per day. However, if you are exercising or become ill, even more water should be consumed and if you have heart disease, talk to your doctor as you may have to limit your fluid intake.  

 Dietary Changes for Vertigo

Dietary changes can also influence symptoms of vertigo. Many clinicians recommend reducing the intake of salt, caffeine, and alcohol. Decreased intake of these substances is believed to help lower endolymphatic pressure, which in turn helps decrease vertigo symptoms. Increasing vitamin D intake has also been shown to help decrease the recurrence of BPPV. Although studies have shown positive effects of changing dietary habits, there is no uniform consensus, and therefore you should always ask your doctor before making any dietary changes.  

 Stress Management for Vertigo

Stress management is another useful tool for managing vertigo. Elevated levels of stress hormones and other chemicals released in response to stress can decrease the effectiveness of transmission of neural information from the vestibular system to the brain, increasing vertigo symptoms. One study that followed participants for 9 years, found that people with anxiety disorders were 2.17 times more likely to develop BPPV than people without anxiety disorders. Although all of us will always experience stressful situations throughout our lives, it is extremely important to try to outweigh the good stress with the bad stress and manage the bad stress through activities like exercise (perhaps yoga or walking), therapy, being out in nature, listening to calming music, or spending time with loved ones. Not only will this help with your vertigo, but it will also help improve many other aspects of your health as well.  

 Sleep to Help with Vertigo

Lastly, lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of vertigo. Lack of quality sleep can affect the brain’s ability to regulate balance and spatial perception, contributing to vertigo symptoms. If you are having trouble sleeping, try staying consistent with your sleep and wake times, creating a relaxing and comfortable environment for sleeping, avoiding screen time before bed, avoiding larger meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bed, and getting in exercise every day.  


We at Freedom Physical Therapy Service hope that these lifestyle tips are useful in tackling your vertigo symptoms! However, always remember that seeing a Physical Therapist is a great option as they are trained in treating vertigo and can help create an individualized program for you and your unique life and goals. If you are experiencing vertigo, please reach out to one of our 4 locations today to see a specialist! 

Physical Therapist
Brianna Ahner graduated from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse with a bachelor’s of science and a major in Exercise Sport Science. Following this, Bri pursued her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree at Simmons University in Boston, MA.