COVID-19 can cause a variety of neurological symptoms. If you’ve had COVID-19, you most likely experienced headaches and loss of taste and smell. However, vertigo and dizziness are other common neurological symptoms of COVID-19. In fact, 17% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 reported dizziness as a symptom.
If it’s been months after your COVID-19 diagnosis and you still feel dizzy, you aren’t alone. It’s common for people to experience COVID-19 symptoms months after their initial diagnosis. This phenomenon is known as long COVID, and it’s experienced by more than half of all COVID-19 patients. Unfortunately, this means that you can suffer from COVID-related dizziness long after you’ve recovered from other symptoms.
Dizziness can affect your daily life and keep you from essential activities like driving, reading and walking; therefore, it’s important for you to get the treatment you need as soon as possible. Physical therapy can help boost your recovery time and help restabilize your body so that you can return to your regular activities without frequent dizziness.
How does COVID-19 cause dizziness?
Your sense of balance depends on three things: your inner ear, your vision and your strength. Together, these things inform your central nervous system to keep your body in place in its environment.
Many issues with balance and stabilization occur due to problems within the inner ear. This is because the inner ear processes sound and motion, telling your brain to remain balanced. Studies show that many people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 also developed inner ear infections like vestibular neuritis, in which a crucial nerve becomes inflamed and disrupts vestibular function.
Your COVID-related dizziness can manifest as dizziness alone, or as a symptom of vertigo. While both terms are often used interchangeably, they do have some key differences. For example, dizziness refers to when you feel off balance and woozy while standing or walking. On the other hand, vertigo refers to when you mistakenly feel as if you or your environment is spinning. Both dizziness and vertigo can occur due to issues of the vestibular system, and they can both be symptoms of COVID-19.
The exact reason why COVID-19 affects the vestibular system is unknown. It may occur because the COVID-19 virus impacts the immune system, but the question is still under investigation. The important thing is that you address your COVID-related dizziness as soon as you can.
4 ways physical therapists can help you address COVID-related dizziness
It can be important to treat your COVID-related dizziness as soon as possible, especially since dizziness can increase your chances of falling. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy is a type of physical therapy that can help treat your dizziness and reduce your risk of falling. Physical therapists can achieve these goals by showing you how to strengthen your core and realign your gait. Specifically, physical therapists can help you with:
- Eye stabilization — Dizziness often occurs if your eyes cannot properly adjust or focus on your surroundings. Doing exercises that involve moving your eyes and head can help train your body to adjust to environments that may trigger your dizziness. For example, gaze stabilization training can help keep your eyes focused, even during episodes of dizziness.
- Gait training — If you immediately feel dizzy while walking, physical therapists can help you regain your sense of stability. They can help retrain your body to move comfortably. Your physical therapist may use balance training, encouraging you to walk in a straight line or lift each leg up and down while standing.
- Core strengthening — Research shows that training your core and back can help your body maintain balance. If you have weak muscles or are often sedentary, strengthening muscles such as your core can help encourage your body to remain stabilized while moving. Physical therapists can show you how to perform exercises that strengthen your core, back, hips, and knees, which in turn helps keep your body aligned and balanced.
- Exercise education — A major benefit of physical therapy is built-in education. Your physical therapist will model your exercises during your sessions until you’ve got them down pat. They will then prescribe you with at-home exercises and encourage you to continue them outside of the clinic. As a result, you can learn tools that will empower you to deal with your COVID-related dizziness as soon as you experience an episode, as well as prevent them from happening in the first place. With more time dedicated to strength and balance training, you can recover faster.
Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for COVID-related dizziness
Are you tired of feeling dizzy months after your COVID-19 diagnosis? At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need.
Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your COVID-19 symptoms, including dizziness.
Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.
Come find the physical therapist who can help treat your COVID-related dizziness.