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Have you ever felt like everything around you was spinning? A common cause of this dizziness is vertigo, a balance disorder. Learn more about this condition and how Medicare covers vertigo treatment.
What is vertigo?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a type of balance disorder. It’s different from simply feeling briefly lightheaded: you might feel like you’re spinning or like your surroundings are spinning, and the dizziness might last for an extended period.
Some common signs of vertigo include:
- Falling or feeling a desire to fall
- Feeling disoriented
- Feeling like your surroundings are spinning around you
According to the Mayo Clinic, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is usually triggered by a change in your head position, such as when you go from a sitting to standing position, or turn over in bed.
According to the NIH, any time you move your head, sensors in your inner ear calculate how your head is positioned and signal your brain. These signals give your body its sense of balance. However, if you have vertigo, this communication channel is disrupted, and your inner ear sends wrong signals to the brain about your head’s position that don’t match what you’re physically experiencing, resulting in dizziness.
Other factors that may cause vertigo, according to the NIH:
- Certain medications
- Ear infections
- Head trauma
- Low blood pressure
- Health conditions that affect your vision or coordination (e.g. eye muscle spasms or arthritis)
According to the Mayo Clinic, vertigo may also be caused when crystals in your inner ear become loose and make you more sensitive to changes in gravity.
Episodes of vertigo can be uncomfortable, but don’t generally result in other medical complications, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, vertigo can increase your risk for falls, so it may be a greater health concern for older adults.
A vertigo diagnosis usually starts with a balance and/or hearing test according to NIH. Your doctor may also order blood work or an electronystagmogram, which measures eye movement.
Vertigo treatment depends on whether the cause can be determined. If medications are causing your vertigo, your doctor may try prescribing a different prescription drug, if available. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to treat your nausea.
According to the NIH, vertigo may sometimes be successfully treated with the Epley maneuver if the cause is loose crystals in the inner ear. This vertigo treatment involves repositioning exercises that help move the crystals into a less sensitive area.
Your doctor may also recommend surgery to remove nerve fibers in your inner ear that send wrong information to your brain.
Does Medicare cover vertigo treatment?
Medicare Part B may cover diagnostic hearing and balance exams if ordered by your doctor to determine if you need further treatment. Medicare also generally covers medically necessary hospital and outpatient care, such as lab tests, physician services, and surgery.
If your doctor prescribes nausea medications as part of your vertigo treatment, prescription drug coverage is available under Medicare Part D.
Please note that your doctor may order tests or vertigo treatment that Medicare doesn’t cover; you should contact Medicare directly if you have coverage questions related to your vertigo treatment.
Would you like help exploring Medicare plan options that may help with vertigo treatment costs? You have a few options. Schedule a time to discuss your needs by phone, or request a personalized email from me. Just click on the “Get Quotes” button on this page.