Vertigo refers to an abnormal sensation of motion. It is a symptom of a range of conditions where a person feels as if they or the objects around them are moving when they are not.
Vertigo may also be associated with vomiting, nausea, sweating, or difficulties walking. Moreover, it is the most common type of dizziness. Often it feels like a rotating or swaying movement which typically gets worse when the head is moved.
Vertigo, or dizziness, can happen at any age. But it is more common in people aged 65 years and over. It can be temporary or long-term.
Persistent vertigo has been associated with mental health problems. A psychiatric issue may cause the dizziness which may affect a person’s ability to function normally in daily life. Thus, possibly leading to depression or anxiety.
Causes of Vertigo
Typically, vertigo is caused by an inner ear problem. However, some of the most common causes include;
- BPPV; benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) occurs when tiny calcium particles clump up in canals of the inner ear. The inner ear sends signals to the brain about different movements of head and body relative to gravity. It aids you to keep your balance. BPPV may be associated with age and can occur for no known reason.
- Meniere’s disease; an inner ear disorder may be caused by a fluid buildup and changing pressure in the ear. It can cause episodes of vertigo with ringing in the ears and hearing loss.
- Vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis; it is an inner ear problem which is usually related to viral infection. The infection is responsible for inflammation in the inner ear around nerves. These nerves are significant for helping the body sense balance.
Less often vertigo may also be associated with;
- Head or neck injury
- Brain problems like stroke or tumor
- Certain medications which cause ear damage
- Migraine headaches
Symptoms of Vertigo
Often, vertigo is triggered by a change in the position of the head. A person will have a sense that their head, or surrounding environment, is moving or rotating. Further, vertigo can be a symptom of different conditions, and it can also have its own set of symptoms which include;
- balance problems and lightheadedness
- a sense of motion sickness
- nausea and vomiting
- a feeling of fullness in the ear
Some types of vertigo can resolve without any treatment, but any underlying condition may need medical attention. For instance, a bacterial infection which would likely need antibiotic therapy.
Drugs can also relieve some signs and may comprise antihistamines or anti-emetics to reduce nausea and motion sickness. Moreover, individuals with an acute vestibular disorder related to a middle ear problem may be prescribed antiviral drugs, steroids, or antibiotics.
Nystagmus can also happen when a person has vertigo. It is an uncontrolled eye movement, usually from side to side. It occurs due to dysfunction of the inner ear or brain.
In some cases, inner surgery is carried out for the treatment of patients with intractable benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). For this, the surgeon inserts a bone plug into the inner ear to block that area where vertigo is being generated.
The plug helps to prevent this part of the ear from responding to particle movements inside the semicircular canal of the head or inner ear movements which could lead to vertigo.
Anybody who experiences vertigo or any other type of dizziness should not drive or use a ladder. It can be a good idea to make home adaptations to prevent falls.
Moreover, getting up slowly may also lessen the problem. Individuals with this condition should also take care when looking upward and not make abrupt changes in head position.