Pro golfer’s condition sheds light on vertigo
In what many consider the most dramatic moment of the PGA Tour’s second major championship, the Australian collapsed from dizziness caused by vertigo on the final hole of round two. Day was diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, one of the most common causes of vertigo.
The 27-year-old finished his round and received treatment locally. He then completed the last two rounds of the tournament, oftentimes seeming unsteady on his feet with a distant gaze in his eyes.
Vertigo is the feeling that you are spinning or the inside of your head is spinning, experts say.
“The main symptom with his diagnosis is dizziness, or strong vertigo where you feel like the world is spinning,” says Dr. Aaron Miller, a neurologist on staff at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “It is generally triggered by moving your head the wrong way, and is accompanied by nausea, headaches or just not feeling well.”
This wasn’t a new occurrence for Day, who only three weeks earlier was forced to withdraw from a tournament after complaining of dizzy spells. Last year, he was also forced to withdraw from the final round of a tournament because of vertigo, and his wife told reporters her husband had been dealing with the condition since 2010.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo occurs when crystals inside the inner ear become dislodged and move into one of the ear’s semicircular canals, Dr. Miller says. These canals are located in the ear’s vestibular labyrinth, along with fluid and sensors that monitor head rotation.
Once a crystal is dislodged and rubs against the inner ear, it causes the semicircular canal to become sensitive to head position changes, making a person feel dizzy.
The condition may go away on its own, but treatment includes vestibular exercises – a series of movements designed to help move the debris from the canal. For more serious cases, treatment can include medication.
“If you think you are experiencing it for the first time, you should be evaluated by a physician to make sure you have the right diagnosis,” Dr. Miller says. “It’s a fairly common condition, and the risk increases with age.”
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