Since yesterday, began the week of balance and vertigo. Six days to raise awareness about this disease and encourage people with vertigo to come and consult. If left untreated, this pathology can ultimately lead to social isolation.
For the first time in France, takes place from September 18 to 24 the Week of balance and vertigo. Through various events (patient-clinician meetings, open days) that will take place throughout France, this week aims to raise public awareness of this frequent pathology and to shine the spotlight on the need to develop the understanding, the protocols as well as a more adapted organization of the management of the vertiginous patient. The latter experiences hallucinations of movement of his environment or a sensation of rotation while remaining motionless. A still little-known disease which nevertheless represents 330,000 consultations per week in France and more than 15 million per year.
Among those over 50, 5% of medical prescriptions relate to vestibular disorders, which represent a total of 1% of all hospital emergencies. These vertigos occur as a result of a dysfunction of the vestibular structures located in the inner ear or in certain areas of the brain. This pathology can become a real handicap by plunging the patient into different spheres of symptoms ranging from anxiety to memory and orientation problems, which can lead to social isolation. “We want to make patients aware, that they realize that it is a real disease”, warns Christian Chabbert, director of the vertigo research group at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) at the origin of this week. This Nîmois wants to raise the awareness of patients, but also of the public authorities to invest more in research.
“There is no effective anti-dizziness drug”
From the generic name “dizziness” derives a multitude of states: the feeling of being intoxicated, the fear of heights or even the fact of seeing everything spinning while lying down. “This generally causes a very rapid loss of confidence that the patient can have in the position of his body, he navigates in a space that is no longer safe”, summarizes Hubert Pallier, vestibular physiotherapist installed since 2000 in Nîmes. They are only three to exercise this specialty in the Gard with two other colleagues based in Sommières and Saint-Privat-des-Vieux. Sensors located in the ear manage our balance and, when they are affected, it can lead to vertigo. This can be related to aging, traumatic shock or infection.
In order to be able to deliver the most precise diagnosis, the questioning of the practitioner is decisive: “When a patient arrives, I tell him: explain to me what is wrong with you, but without using the word vertigo”, says Hubert Pallier. Because after being taken care of by a general practitioner, an emergency doctor or an ENT doctor, it is indeed a vestibular physiotherapist that patients will consult. The latter will guide and support the restoration of balance and posture. Vestibular rehabilitation is in the spotlight because for the moment, “there is no effective anti-dizziness drug”, assures Christian Chabbert who is working in particular on areas for improvement with his teams. After having isolated the inconsistencies in the brain, the practitioner will be able to act and synchronize all the information again.
“I believe that the repercussions of this pathology on the patient’s entire life are underestimated. It can go very far, to social isolation. It can eat life. An elderly person who feels dizzy while going to the supermarket or while gardening will think it’s normal because they are getting older. No, it’s just that she’s sick and you have to consult,” insists Christian Chabbert. Two professionals who especially want to highlight the fact that vestibular rehabilitation works and that with care, the patient will better control his feelings. With this week (see video below), the desire is therefore to raise awareness, raise awareness as much as possible about vertigo and explain to each patient that they should not hesitate to consult because there will always be an attentive ear for the to listen.