Introduction to Vertigo
Vertigo is a common symptom of many conditions, where patients feel like the environment around them is spinning.
What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a common symptom of many conditions, where patients feel like the environment around them is spinning. It varies from mild to severe and can be so severe that patients struggle to walk, keep their balance or carry out activities of daily living.
They can come on in attacks which last a short length of time, or can be present constantly.
Loss of balance, dizziness or nausea from the sensation of vertigo.
You should visit your doctor if you suddenly experienced unexplained vertigo or if it recurs over time.
What causes Vertigo?
There are many causes of vertigo and most are associated with problems in the inner ear, where the balance centre is located. It can also be caused by problems in the brain, but this is rarer. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is vertigo that is caused by bits of debris in the ear (e.g. bone), that disturb the balance centre of the inner ear. Migraines can cause headaches that can cause vertigo. Sometimes, with an infection, you may develop inflammation of the inner ear which can disturb the balance centre. The nerve that sends the signal from the balance centre in the inner ear to the brain can also become inflamed and this condition is called vestibular neuronitis. Other conditions such as Meniere’s disease can also cause vertigo.
If no problem is found with the inner ear, the doctor may organise a scan of the brain to see if there is anything in there that may be causing your symptoms.
What are the symptoms of Vertigo?
Depending on the cause of vertigo, you may experience other symptoms. Dizziness and loss of balance is common, as damage to the balance organs causes the symptom of vertigo. Patients often complain of nausea due to the spinning of the surrounding environment. If the cause is due to an infection or inflammation, patients may have a raised temperature. Other aspects of your ear may be affected and patients may have ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or reduced hearing levels.
How is Vertigo treated?
The treatment of vertigo depends on the condition causing it. For some cases head manoeuvres can cure the disease, but in others, medications and rehabilitation may be needed. Treatment of other symptoms such as nausea, helps the recovery process. Antihistamines can help some patients in the early stages. Patients also benefit from vestibular rehabilitation training, which involves a series of exercises which improve balance and reduce dizziness and vertigo. Patients should be cautious of maintaining safety when they have vertigo as it can commonly cause falls and injuries which can be very detrimental. Your doctor will educate you on this and offer further advice.