Health & Body

Ask Deb: Help! Turning Is Making Me Nauseous

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I put dancing aside for two years, but now I'm back and ready to work hard. The only problem is that I get really nauseated in class when turning. This was never an issue before I stopped. Do you know what the problem could be?


Yikes! You're describing vertigo, which is the abnormal sensation of rotation or movement of self, or environment. Balance is maintained in a person by the interaction of the inner ears, the eyes, the brain, spinal cord and muscles. Each system monitors different aspects of balance.

As the head moves, there is fluid in the balance chambers of the ears, which push against nerve endings. There are also crystals that reside in the inner ear. When those crystals are dislodged and go into the canals, they influence the balance nerves inappropriately. I learned about this phenomenon when my sister-in-law slipped on a newly washed floor in the mall and landed on her pelvis. She was appropriately sore from her fall, but what lingered was vertigo, which got in the way of everyday activities, like bending down to pick something up. She finally resolved her vertigo by going to a neurologist, who put her on a special tilt table that repositioned the crystals in her inner ear.

Infections or viruses can influence the inner ear, so think back if you've had any bouts with the flu, sinus infections, etc. There are other disorders like Menieres syndrome that create vertigo. Bottom line, there are many possibilities!

Balance is not innate and must be trained. My first suggestion would be to practice balancing slowly. Stand on one leg and slowly turn your head or practice port de bras following your hand. After a few weeks of consistent practice, see if this decreases your challenges with vertigo. If it doesn't, I would recommend seeing a neurologist or a good ENT doctor to evaluate your vertigo.

To your success,

Deborah Vogel

Director, The Body Series

Got a question for Deb? E-mail askdeb@dancemedia.com, and she may answer it in an upcoming web exclusive.

To work with Deb Vogel in person, check out her summer workshop, A Dance Teacher's Retreat to Tuscany!

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