Are you concerned you’re experiencing symptoms that may be vertigo? While feeling dizzy can happen for a number of reasons, it can also be the first sign of a more significant issue. Medicare insurance may be able to help you access the right treatment, but it’s necessary to understand the causes, symptoms and possible solutions before making a decision with your doctor.
The clinical term for this condition is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV. Characteristic features of vertigo can vary depending on each person. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describe this balance disorder as a disruption of the signal that exists between the inner ear and your brain. This signal can be impacted by several internal and external causes:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Reactions to some medication
- Inner ear infections
- Inner ear irregularities
- Trauma to the head
Spasms in the muscles of the eyes, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, some genetic diseases and other chronic health conditions can also bring on episodes of vertigo.
Identifying Symptoms of Vertigo
Because vertigo is a balance disorder, you may experience a variety of symptoms that impact your perception of equilibrium. Symptoms may include:
- Feeling as if the environment around you is spinning
- Sensation of falling or having an impulse to fall
- Prolonged dizziness or disorientation
- Experiencing nausea
While these symptoms on their own are not known to cause neurological damage or physical harm, they can raise the risk of falling and sustaining secondary injuries. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the intensity and frequency of these episodes if you experience them.
To properly diagnose vertigo, your doctor may perform certain tests depending on your clinical history. These tests can include:
- The Romberg test: a test to measure balance that requires the patient to stand, feet together, with their eyes closed.
- The Fukuda-Unterberger test: a test to measure balance that requires the patient to march in one place with their eyes closed.
- The Dix-Hallpike test: a test to observe eye movement that is performed on an examination table where the patient lays down quickly with their head tilted slightly to the left or right.
- The head thrust test: a test to observe eye movement that requires the patient to look at the examiner’s nose as the examiner moves their head quickly.
It’s also possible that your doctor may order an MRI, a CT scan or blood work as part of their diagnostic process.
Treatment Options for Vertigo
The right treatment plan for you depends on what your doctor identifies as the cause of your symptoms.
If you’re experiencing vertigo due to a reaction to medication, it’s possible that changing medications will resolve your vertigo symptoms. When other medications aren’t available, your doctor may treat the vertigo symptoms instead, like prescribing anti-nausea medicine.
Ear infections or nerve irregularities can be treated with antibiotics or surgery as indicated. When vertigo is caused by loose crystals in the inner ear, your doctor may suggest exercises that help reposition these crystals in order to resolve your vertigo symptoms.
Vertigo that arises as a symptom of other chronic conditions may be relieved with appropriate treatment of those clinical issues.
Medicare Coverage for Vertigo
Due to the various causes of vertigo and the variety of tests and treatments available to relieve it, it’s possible that your Medicare insurance may cover certain costs.
Medicare Part A and Part B may cover medically necessary services you need to diagnose and treat your vertigo. Part A (Hospital Insurance) may cover care you receive while you are formally admitted into a hospital, including general nursing care. Part B (Medical Insurance)may cover doctor visits, outpatient care, diagnostic exams, and lab tests. Approval for Medicare coverage of these services may depend on if you visit a Medicare-approved medical provider that accepts assignment.
Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage may cover necessary medication if your doctor determines that you need medicinal treatment of your vertigo symptoms or the chronic health condition causing it. If you have Original Medicare, you can enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). Medicare Advantage plans are required to include all of your Part A and Part B benefits, but many offer additional coverage, including prescription drug coverage and annual out of pocket maximums. Each PDP or Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage (MA-PD) has its own formulary, or list of covered drugs, and tiers of pricing. It’s important to note that even with coverage, you may still be responsible for all copayments and annual deductibles.