Causes of vertigo
Vertigo can be either caused by a disease or by physiological factors.
Caused by a disease
Some of the diseases that lead to vertigo include Meniere’s disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, and labyrinthitis. Other medical conditions that may lead to vertigo include brain stroke, brain tumours, head injury, multiple sclerosis, and migraines.
Vertigo is often temporary, due to an exposure to a motion for an extended period of time, such as while being on a ship. Intoxicating and toxic substances can also lead to vertigo too, such as alcohol, aspirin, and carbon monoxide.
The most common cause of vertigo is benign positional vertigo (BPV). It occurs when small pieces of calcium crystals not found in the semi-circular canals but in other areas of the inner ear find their way there. The semi-circular canals are tubes in the inner ear responsible for keeping your body balanced, but the foreign calcium crystals interrupt their normal functioning. As a result, your brain gets confusing messages about your body's position, which leads to the spinning sensation of vertigo as the brain tries to find its balance.
Any physical motion of the head can disrupt the normal work of the semi-circular canals, leading to vertigo. These actions, however, can lead to slight episodes of vertigo mostly by:
- Tilting your head up and down several times
- Getting up after lying down for a while
- Spinning around with the eyes closed
Signs and symptoms of vertigo
- Swaying unbalance
- Being pulled to one side
Whenever someone suffers from such an episode, he or she is bound to experience the following:
- Nystagmus (abnormal or jerking eye movements either vertically or horizontally)
- Hearing loss or a ringing in the ear
- Blurred vision
These symptoms will usually last less than one minute, and go away if you just stay still for a while.
Because episodes of vertigo occur rarely, you don’t have to rush to a doctor at the very first moment. When it does occur, however, sit down for a while. Sitting is not an actual treatment for vertigo, but an episode of vertigo while standing may lead to dizziness and falls. These falls can sometimes be dangerous and sitting helps avoid such a thing. Also, remember to keep in mind the trigger that led to your vertigo episode. This would help you be prepared if you believe a certain situation may cause you vertigo.
If the case persists, then the problem may be a little serious and not BPV. In such a case, you need to see a doctor who will perform various physical exams and review your medical history for other possible explanations. One reliable test for BPV is the Dix-Hallpike manoeuvre after which they may perform an Epley’s manoeuvre to remove the piece of calcium out of the semi-circular canals.