What is vertigo?
Vertigo is experienced when a person feels like they or the objects around them are spinning, creating a dizzying or off-balance sensation. Vertigo is often followed by nausea, sweating, heaving, or disorientation.
What causes vertigo?
Vertigo is usually caused by an inner ear problem. Most inner ear issues are harmless and include:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) - Occurs when small calcium deposits gather in the canal of the inner ear causing the inner ear to transmit flawed signals to the brain about the motion of the body
- Meniere's Disease - An inner ear condition resulting from the accumulation of fluid and erratic pressure in the ear; the most common issue that results in vertigo
- Vestibular Neuritis/Labyrinthitis - Caused by a swelling of the inner ear due to an infection that disturbs the nerves responsible for balance
Non-ear causes of vertigo may include:
- Neck or head damage
- Brain issues - tumor or stroke
- Specific medications - with a side effect of ear damage or migraines
How do I know if I have vertigo?
Testing for vertigo includes patient-report of symptoms, as well as 2 primary tests that detect irregular eye movement:
- Electronystagmography (ENG)
- Videonystagmography (VNG)
What is the treatment for vertigo?
Treatment for vertigo ranges depending on the causes and can include:
- Antibiotics or steroids - May be used if the vertigo is caused by an infection or inflammation
- Anti-nausea - May be used to alleviate the symptoms of nausea
- Diuretics/water pills - May be used to alleviate pressure from the fluid build-up if the cause is Meniere's Disease
- Surgical procedures - If due to a tumor or injury
Other non-surgical Options
- Vestibular Rehabilitation - A type of physical therapy that helps to restore the vestibular system through teaching your remaining senses to compensate for the vertigo
- Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers - Involves a sequence of head and body exercises for BPPV to help move the calcium accumulation from the canal and into the inner ear area to be absorbed by the body
Can vertigo go away without any treatment?
In many cases, vertigo doesn't require treatment and may gradually or suddenly disappear. This is due the brain's ability to adapt to inner ear changes and regain homeostasis (a return to a stable state).