Have you ever felt that sensation dizziness and the world around you is spinning? It could be possible that you have vertigo. Vertigo is actually a symptom of various medical conditions. You may experience it if you have any problems with the pathway of your sensory nerves, the brain, or your inner ear.
Regardless of your age, vertigo can emerge. However, it is mostly common for individuals aging 65 years old and above. Vertigo may be present for just a short while or it may also last for a long period. There are some cases of vertigo that are related to mental health conditions.
If the individual has psychiatric problems, then it is possible that such a problem can cause vertigo to emerge. When this happens, the person may have difficulty functioning in his or her everyday life. This kind of challenge can worsen the individual’s anxiety or depression.
Vertigo: What is it?
Vertigo is when you feel dizzy and everything else around you is spinning. Unlike what many people know about vertigo, it is not actually being afraid of heights. Vertigo refers to a condition that can be temporary or ongoing wherein you experience dizziness because of some problems with the brain or the inner ear.
If you are experiencing vertigo or any kind of dizziness, remember that you should do your best to avoid driving or using a ladder. Consider preparing your home so that if you fall, you won’t be injured or hurt. When you get up, do so slowly so that you can lessen the risk of falling. Also, remember to not turn your head suddenly, or move your neck suddenly, as that is the most common reason for feeling dizzy.
What are the Vertigo Symptoms?
If you have vertigo then you may already be too familiar with the feeling that your head or your immediate environment is spinning or moving. Vertigo may emerge as a symptom of an underlying medical condition with other related symptoms.
Do you experience any of these symptoms below?
• Your ear feels full
• Vomiting and nausea
• Motion sickness
• And problems with keeping your balance
There are many types of vertigo that goes away on its own without needing any kind of treatment. However, you should still consider getting a medical checkup so you can know more about any underlying condition that may be causing the vertigo. A common example could be bacterial infection. For that, you may have to go through antibiotic therapy so that the infection and all the other symptoms like vertigo can be treated.
Individuals who suffer from vertigo may also take certain medications so as to relieve its symptoms. Some examples of these medications are anti-emetics or antihistamines. Taking these will help in reducing nausea and motion sickness. For people who have acute vestibular disorder which is associated with having an infection of the middle ear, then the doctor may prescribe meds such as antibiotics, antiviral drugs, and steroids.
Another condition that may have vertigo as a symptom is nystagmus. With this condition, the person has uncontrollable eye movements. Usually, the eyes move from side to side which is caused by a certain dysfunction of the inner ear or the brain.
For more serious cases such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV, it may be necessary to perform a surgery on the inner ear. During this procedure, the surgeon will be inserting a bone plug in the patient’s inner ear. This is to block the part where the vertigo gets triggered.
By placing the bone plug, it becomes possible to prevent the area of the ear to be affected by particle movements happening inside of the inner ear’s semicircular canal leading to episodes of vertigo.
Vertigo, Ménière’s Disease, and Treatments
Ménière’s disease is a medical condition that can cause vertigo. There are medications that can be used to lessen the sensation of being dizzy. Some of the meds include lorazepam, glycopyrrolate, and meclizine.
Apart from the medications, there are also other options when it comes to treating Ménière’s disease. Here are some of them:
• You may try restricting salt in your diet as well as undergoing diuretic therapy. This way, fluid retention in the body may be reduced. Too much fluid in the body can cause build up in your inner ear. When this happens, vertigo can ensue.
• People with Ménière’s disease should avoid smoking tobacco, alcohol, chocolates, and caffeine.
• There is also a procedure called pressure pulse treatment. It is when a device is used to fit to your outer ear. It then produces pulses of air pressure to your middle ear that can help in reducing vertigo.
• Also, surgery is an option in treating Ménière’s disease. In surgery, the vestibular nerve is cut. The endolymphatic sac may also be decompressed. This option is available if none of the other treatments work.
There are also people who have tried undergoing acupressure and acupuncture. Some take herbal supplements. While there are positive results for some people with vertigo or Ménière’s disease, there is still no scientific proof that can back up claims that these treatment options are indeed effective.
If you plan to take alternative treatments for your medical condition, it is still best if you consult with your doctor first so that you will be aware of any side effects that such treatments may have on your body.
What are the Causes of Vertigo?
The causes of vertigo can vary. There are so many medical conditions that have vertigo as a symptom. Usually, a person experiences vertigo when there is a problem in the inner ear. Some of the less common reasons are problems in some areas of the brain. In this section, we’ll discuss several causes of vertigo.
BPPV: This stands for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. BPPV happens when there is a disturbance in your otolith particles. The otolith particles are calcium carbonate crystals that are found in the inner ear fluid. When there is movement, the particles make contact with the sensory hair cells that are inside your semicircular canals. Also, the vestibular nerve is stimulated so that it can send information to your brain about your position.
When you have BPPV, even when you are not moving, the endolymph fluid will continue moving since there are otolith crystals present in your semicircular canals. BPPV commonly happens to older people. However, the root cause of this condition is usually undetermined. BPPV is also thought to be related to dementia. It is also more common in females than to males.
Cholesteatoma: When skin grows in your middle ear because of being repeatedly infected, then cholesteatoma can occur. Leaving this skin to grow can cause damage in your ear. If there are no treatments done for this condition, then it is possible that you may suffer from dizziness and eventually, hearing loss.
Labyrinthitis: This medical condition is when there is an inflammation in your inner ear labyrinth as well as the nerve located there. That nerve is the one responsible for registering sound, the position and the head motion of your body. The name of this nerve is the vestibulocochlear nerve. Labyrinthitis is commonly caused by an infection.
Other causes of vertigo are:
• Head trauma or injuries
• Side effects of particular medications
• Migraines and headaches
• Ear surgery
• Otosclerosis or a problem in the middle ear bone which can cause hearing loss
• Perilymphatic fistula or a tear in either or both of the ear’s membranes that separate the middle ear from the inner ear. This causes the inner ear fluid to reach the middle ear.
• Herpes zoster oticus or the viral infection affecting the shingles found close to your ears. This also affects the facial nerve. When this happens, then it is known as a condition called Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
• Multiple sclerosis
• Acoustic neuroma or a growth in your vestibular nerve traversing between your inner ear towards the brain.
• Brainstem or cerebellar disease like stroke or tumor.
• And transient ischemic attack
How Long Does Vertigo Last?
When you have episodes of dizziness or vertigo, the length of time that you’ll experience it may vary from just a few seconds up to several days. However, don’t be alarmed. Typically, an episode only lasts for a number of seconds or minutes.
The medical condition that you have which causes the vertigo is a major factor when it comes to the duration of the episode. For example, with Ménière’s disease, the vertigo episode may last for a few hours to a number of days. When you experience vertigo this long, you may also suffer from nausea, vomiting, hearing loss, and there may be some ringing in your ear. In the case of stroke of head injury, some individuals may experience chronic or long-term vertigo.
Vertigo is a complex symptom that can be caused by a wide variety of medical conditions. The length of time that an episode of vertigo lasts is dependent on the condition causing it. While it usually just lasts for a few moments, it is still important to seek medical attention so that you will be able to determine the problem causing it. Do consult with your doctor so that you will be given the appropriate medications and other medical advice on what to do when an episode of vertigo happens.
Dr. Tymothy L. Flory graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, Missouri. Before opening Atlas Brain Spine, Dr. Flory practiced Upper Cervical Chiropractic in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Flory completed Board Certification of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association in 2012 and is currently a Credentialed Instructor for the organization.