How a Turn of the Head Can Help You Conquer Dizziness & Vertigo

Imagine living in constant fear that the world can begin spinning around you at any moment. This was Shirlee Bromley's daily life for more than five years.

Shirlee was diagnosed with a condition called intermittent benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV. It happens when naturally occurring crystals, called otoconia, become misplaced in the inner ear canal. This condition is characterized by dizziness, a whirling or spinning sensation (vertigo), nausea, lightheadedness, and even loss of balance.

The 78-year-old Claremont resident has struggled with intermittent BPPV since 2011. Due to her severe anxiety over triggering her symptoms, Shirlee chose not to seek treatment. As a result, her unpredictable episodes of vertigo forced her to quit cycling and made it nearly impossible to take a walk without feeling dizzy.

"It makes you feel out of control," says Shirlee. "I couldn't even sleep on my back because I was so terrified of my symptoms coming back."

BPPV often goes undiscovered, but once diagnosed, it can take just a few treatments by an experienced vestibular professional to get you back to your daily life.

In late 2016, Shirlee decided to seek treatment through Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center's Dizziness and Vestibular Rehabilitation program, where Lauren Rossman, PT, Senior Therapist and Vestibular Treatment Lead, evaluated her by assessing her eyes' responses to changes in head position. Lauren was able to identify which ear and which of its three semicircular canals were involved. From there, Lauren developed a personalized treatment plan for Shirlee that moved the crystal back where it belonged and eliminated the spinning. She then taught Shirlee how to treat herself should her symptoms return.

"While BPPV is a complex problem, I worked with Shirlee to effectively treat her BPPV," says Lauren. "The goal of each session is to eliminate dizziness and provide her and her partner with the tools to manage her symptoms at home."

Nearly one year later, Shirlee continues to be asymptomatic, and says she no longer feels debilitated by BPPV. She’s now swimming and takes regular walks around her neighborhood.

"With this treatment, I got my life back," says Shirlee. "It's so reassuring to know I can always call on Lauren for professional, compassionate care, if needed."

Click here to learn more about the Dizziness and Vestibular Rehabilitation program at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center.