What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a sensation that makes you feel that you are off-balance, and you feel dizzy and imagine you are swaying or as though everything around you is spinning or tilting to one side. Vertigo is not a disease but a sign of an underlying health condition. Inner ear problems are the leading cause of Vertigo.
What are the symptoms of Vertigo?
The main symptom of vertigo is dizziness. This sensation may be accompanied by any of the following signs depending on what is causing vertigo:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Lack of visual focus
- Hearing loss in one or both ears and feeling the ears are blocked.
- Loss of balance.
- Ringing in the ears.
- Motion sickness.
If the vertigo is brain-related (Central Vertigo), the symptoms may include:
- Problem swallowing.
- Double vision.
- Problems with eye movement.
- Facial paralysis.
- Slurred speech.
- Limb weakness.
What causes Vertigo
Several factors trigger vertigo; the exact triggers vary from person to person. Vertigo is of two types: Peripheral Vertigo and Central Vertigo. The former is caused by problems in the inner ear's balance system, and the latter is due to issues in parts of the brain.
Some of the more common inner-ear-related conditions that cause vertigo include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): This condition in which specific head movements such as looking up or down, sitting up or lying down, or rolling cause vertigo. Why does this happen? Your inner ear's balance centre organs, the utricle and the sacculus, contain tiny calcium crystals called otoconia. The crystals' job is to stimulate the hairlike cells of the utricle to tell your brain that your body is moving. This signaling helps your body maintain its balance. But when the crystals get dislodged due to injury or disease, they move out of the balance centres of the inner ear into the fluid-filled areas of the ear. Consequently, during specific head movements, the out-of-place crystals send mixed signals to the brain, leading to vertigo. BPPV may be caused by an ear infection, ear surgery, head injury, or extended bed rest due to illness.
- Labyrinthitis or inner ear infection due to a cold or flu.
- Vestibular neuritis or inflammation of the vestibular nerve in the inner ear. The vestibular nerve extends into the inner ear and relays messages to the brain to maintain the body's balance.
- Ménière's disease is an inner ear condition that leads to a ringing sensation in the ear, a feeling of pressure in the ear or hearing loss.
Brain-related Central Vertigo is caused by:
- Migraine headaches.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Acoustic neuroma is a rare, non-cancerous brain tumor on the acoustic nerve that controls hearing and balance.
- Brain tumor (in the cerebellum).
- Medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and cardiovascular drugs.
Other conditions that lead to vertigo include:
- Hyperventilation (rapid breathing)
- Bone growth in the middle ear.
How is Vertigo treated?
The first step in treating vertigo is correctly diagnosing its underlying cause. Is it Peripheral Vertigo or Central Vertigo? Vertigo often disappears on its own with time as the body adapts to inner ear changes.
But in cases where vertigo is recurrent, severe, and episodic, treatment approaches include:
- Vestibular Rehabilitation Training (VRT) involves exercises that help strengthen the inner ear's vestibular system and control dizziness and imbalance. (The vestibular system is the sensory part of the inner ear that helps the body keep its balance and coordinate the head's position and eye movement. It signals the brain to keep the body coordinating with gravity to keep its balance).
- Medicines. These help to relieve nausea or motion sickness that often accompanies vertigo and include antiemetics, antihistamines, etc.
- Antibiotics or steroids treat infection or inflammation that causes vertigo.
When should I see a doctor for Vertigo?
If you are experiencing recurrent or episodic bouts of vertigo that interfere with your ability to function normally, make an appointment with a neurologist. They have the tools and techniques to diagnose the root cause of your vertigo.
Get the best Vertigo expertise in Dubai at American Hospital Dubai
Our Neurology Department has the most advanced diagnostic methods and treatment programs for all types of vertigo.
Our multi-disciplinary and integrative treatment approach ensures you get the most accurate, efficient vertigo treatment and care under one roof.
Our highly experienced neurologists provide a personalized treatment plan for speedy relief with correct medication and lifestyle change recommendations based on symptoms and your medical and family health history.