Vertigo is a feeling of off-balance or sensation of dizziness. A variety of conditions causes it. The below article details the same.
Vertigo is a common issue that refers to a sensation of being dizzy or feeling off-balance. It can cause a feeling that the environment around a person is spinning in circles. Vertigo is not a disorder. Instead, it is a symptom of varying conditions. Vertigo attacks can affect people of any age, but they are more common in older individuals. Women are more likely to be affected by vertigo than men. Some women may experience vertigo as a side effect of pregnancy. On average, vertigo attacks persist for several seconds to several minutes. However, some people can experience vertigo for hours, days, weeks, or even months in severe cases. Vertigo can be frightening, but the condition itself is not considered severe. However, it can be associated with other potentially serious health conditions. Therefore, informing healthcare providers of recurrent or prolonged vertigo attacks is essential.
The two main types of vertigo are as follows:
Peripheral Vertigo: This is the most common type of vertigo that typically happens when there is a problem with the inner ear.
An inner ear problem often causes vertigo. Common causes of vertigo include:
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): It is the most common cause of vertigo, typically triggered by a change in the head's position. People with BPPV can experience vertigo when lying down, sitting up, or turning over in bed.
Meniere's Disease: This inner ear disorder is caused by fluid buildup and varying pressure in the ear, leading to vertigo attacks accompanied by ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss.
Vestibular Labyrinthitis: The infection or inflammation of the inner ear labyrinth is called vestibular labyrinthitis. The ear labyrinth harbors the vestibulocochlear nerve, which sends signals to the brain about sound, position, and head motion. As a result, people often experience headaches, ear pain, vision changes, tinnitus, or hearing loss.
Vestibular Neuritis: The inflammation or infection of the vestibular nerve is called vestibular neuritis, which can cause vertigo. Vestibular neuritis is the same as vestibular labyrinthitis, but it does not alter the hearing. People with vestibular neuritis may experience vertigo, nausea, or blurred vision.
Cholesteatoma: Repeated ear infections can cause non-cancerous skin growth in the middle ear. This condition is called cholesteatoma. People with cholesteatoma can experience dizziness, vertigo, and hearing loss.
Less common causes of vertigo are:
Head or neck injury.
Brain problems such as stroke or tumor.
Prolonged bed rest.
Orthostatic Hypotension - A condition in which the blood pressure decreases when standing up.
Ataxia, or muscle weakness.
Vertigo is a symptom of several conditions. However, vertigo can also develop along with other symptoms, including:
Nausea and vomiting.
A feeling of fullness in the ear.
Nystagmus, abnormal or jerking eye movements.
Hearing loss. Vertigo symptoms can persist for a few minutes to a few hours or more. In Meniere's disease, vertigo episodes can last for 20 minutes. Migraine-induced vertigo can persist for minutes to hours.
Most vertigo cases go away on their own. However, several treatments can successfully manage vertigo. The vertigo treatment depends on its cause. The most common vertigo treatments include:
Medications: Treating the underlying cause of vertigo can help relieve symptoms. If an infection or inflammation causes vertigo, the healthcare provider can prescribe antibiotics or steroids. If vertigo results from Meniere's disease, diuretics or water pills may be given to lower pressure from fluid buildup.
Vestibular Rehabilitation: If vertigo results from an inner ear issue, this physical therapy can help relieve the symptoms. Vestibular rehabilitation helps strengthen the vestibular system to compensate for vertigo episodes.
Canalith Repositioning Procedure (CRP): If a person has benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), canalith repositioning maneuvers help move calcium deposits out of the canal into an inner ear chamber where the body absorbs them. There may be vertigo symptoms during the procedure due to movement of the canaliths.
Surgery: Surgery may be necessary when vertigo is due to a severe underlying issue, such as a tumor or neck or brain injury.
A few steps may help reduce the risk of vertigo. These include:
Take extra time to stand up, turn head or perform other triggering movements.
Elevate the head by placing two pillows below the head when sleeping.
Sit down if having a feeling of dizziness.
Try to squat rather than bending over when picking something up.
If vertigo becomes severe or recurrent, call a healthcare provider. There may be an underlying medical problem that is causing vertigo symptoms. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help in deciding an effective treatment plan.
Vertigo often comes suddenly without warning. It causes dizziness and makes one feel like spinning around. This condition can arise for many reasons, such as infections, injuries, migraines, and other health conditions, but the most common cause is an inner ear problem. Although vertigo attacks can be scary, they go away quickly in most cases. However, for severe or prolonged vertigo, the symptoms can be associated with another medical condition. Treating the underlying cause of vertigo is the most effective way to reduce discomfort and provide long-term relief. The healthcare provider can help detect the root cause of vertigo and determine an effective treatment plan to help a person with vertigo get back to normal life.
Last reviewed at:
03 Jun 2022 - 4 min read
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