Healthy Living

Vertigo: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Vertigo: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Key Takeaways

  • Vertigo is usually temporary, lasting for a few seconds to a couple of minutes. 
  • Vertigo occurs due to sudden head movements.
  • The most common causes of vertigo include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Meniere's disease, and labyrinthitis.

Vertigo is a fairly common condition that causes an individual to feel as if their head is spinning and he or she becomes dizzy. It is usually temporary, only for a few seconds to minutes, occurring only when you make sudden head movements, but sometimes it can be so severe that it begins to interrupt your daily activities. For those suffering from severe vertigo, they experience the feeling of dizziness for a few hours and sometimes even days, then it becomes a disabling condition. The most important thing, however, is to learn all you can about the condition because it can happen to anyone.

Causes of vertigo

Vertigo occurs when your semi-circular canals are interfered with because they are the organs responsible for maintaining body balance. Various conditions can affect the semi-circular canals, leading to vertigo, including:

  1. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: this is an effect experienced when calcium crystals found in the inner ear are dislodged from their initial position and drift into the semi-circular canals. These crystals interrupt the electric signals sent to the brain, causing confusion and dizziness. A number of factors can be responsible for the dislodgement of calcium particles including age and certain dental procedures.
  2. Meniere’s disease: endolymph is a fluid present in the inner ear that serves to send sound vibrations to the auditory nerve. For reasons not yet known, this fluid either becomes overproduced or fails to drain properly, thereby building up in the inner ear causing increased pressure. This leads to symptoms of vertigo as well as hearing loss and tinnitus which is a ringing in the ear.
  3. Labyrinthitis: just like any other body part, the ear, too, can be infected. When there is an infection in the inner ear, it causes the organs there to be inflamed, exerting pressure on auditory nerves sending messages to the brain. Once the signals are interrupted, your brain receives mixed signals and is unable to maintain proper balance, hence, vertigo.

Vertigo

Symptoms of vertigo

  • Dizziness
  • Spinning
  • Swaying
  • Imbalance

Due to these symptoms, the sufferer is bound to experience further symptoms arising from these. They are not caused directly by vertigo, though, but will accompany an episode of vertigo:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Nystagmus (abnormal or jerking eye movements either vertically or horizontally)
  • Hearing loss or a ringing in the ear
  • Blurred vision
  • Light-headedness

Vertigo

Vertigo Treatment

As we saw earlier, vertigo is often caused by temporary conditions, and these will usually go away as the brain adapts to the changes. However, for more serious cases of vertigo, the sufferer may need treatment, which will depend on the cause of vertigo.

For vertigo brought about by an inner ear infection, antibiotics will bring the inflammation down, relieving pressure from the auditory nerves and eliminating vertigo. For other types of vertigo, rehabilitation and certain physical maneuver may be used to reposition dislodged calcium particles and strengthen the vestibular system. These therapeutic measures train your brain to withstand effects of vertigo and prevent debilitating symptoms.