Vertigo is the sensation of the world spinning or moving around you, even when you’re perfectly still. Vertigo is often accompanied by dizziness, nausea, motion sickness, & lightheadedness. Although its symptoms can present in a variety of forms & ways, many doctors today widely consider Vertigo an inner ear balance issue. Its symptoms manifest in the balance centre of the brain & the inner ear. Vertigo signs & symptoms can be triggered by an external injury, infection, or head trauma, or can be brought on by certain genetic factors. Vertigo is of two types: Peripheral vertigo & Central vertigo.
Peripheral vertigo is by far the most common kind of vertigo that people experience, with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) being the most common kind of peripheral vertigo out there. Peripheral vertigo causes include ear infections like Meniere’s Disease, labyrinthitis, etc., the displacement of calcium crystals lying inside the middle ear to the semicircular canals in the inner ear, & any injuries or head trauma.
Fixing the inherent inner ear issue that is causing the Vertigo symptoms then, is the adequate peripheral Dizziness treatment strategy.
Central Vertigo, on the other hand, is caused by an issue with the balance centre in the brain, which affects the brain’s ability to assimilate, interpret, & take decisions on any balance information received from the external inputs. While Peripheral Vertigo can be treated by treating its causes, the prognosis for central vertigo is not so good.
Most cases of Central Vertigo can be treated with medications, physical therapy, & patience. It is also true that some cases of Vertigo, both peripheral & central, often go away on their own.
Vertigo Signs & symptoms:
Vertigo can present in a variety of ways, the most common of which include:
- A spinning sensation,
- Disorientation or a loss of balance even when one is perfectly still
- Motion sickness
- Abnormal eye movements, also called nystagmus
If you are suffering from BPPV, you might notice that your Vertigo symptoms get worse when you perform certain activities like moving the head or body, rolling over in bed, or spinning in circles, etc.
It is also important for your healthcare provider to accurately diagnose the exact type of Vertigo you’re experiencing. This is important to draw up an effective treatment plan for your specific Vertigo signs.
Your doctor will likely test your balance & coordination by asking you to perform certain activities, to determine if your Vertigo symptoms are due to an inner ear issue or a problem with your brain. Your doctor might algo give you walking tests & ask you to carry out certain activities that will help them determine if your central nervous system is compromised.
Vertigo causes depend on the type of Vertigo you’re experiencing, central or peripheral. Central Vertigo causes have to do with the brain, while Peripheral vertigo arises from issues in the inner ear.
Peripheral vertigo causes:
- There are tiny calcium crystals in the middle ear called the otoliths, which help the body maintain balance. When these crystals mistakenly get dislodged inside the semicircular canals of the inner ear, they cause irritation & problems with the balance signals, as they are also sensitive to movement. This leads the patients to feel dizzy or a spinning sensation every time they move their heads in a certain way. This dislodging of calcium crystals is the primary Vertigo cause for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).
- The vestibular nerve is the primary nerve carrying balance information to & from the brain. When this nerve gets inflamed, it causes problems with the body’s natural balance system & causes the patient to feel dizzy, a spinning sensation, & nauseous. This nerve can get inflamed due to various infections, the two most common of which are Vestibular Neuritis & labyrinthitis.
- Sometimes, the fluid buildup inside the inner ear or the endolymphatic system can cause Meniere’s Disease. In this, fluid builds up inside the inner ear causing a problem with the natural balance maintenance of the body. Meniere’s Disease also leads to a ringing sound in the ears known as tinnitus, along with certain degrees of hearing loss.
- In some cases, acoustic neuromas or tumors of the vestibular nerve can also cause Vertigo symptoms.
Central Vertigo causes:
- A concussion or a traumatic brain injury,
- In some cases, strokes may also cause vertigo & loss of coordination,
- Multiple Sclerosis,
- Brain & spinal cord tumors,
- In some cases, Vestibular Migraines can also cause Vertigo signs & symptoms
Vertigo treatment in most cases is similar to dizziness treatment, in that it focuses on treating the underlying cause of the Vertigo symptoms.
Some of the most common Vertigo treatments include:
- Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers: Canalith repositioning maneuvers are quite popular in Vertigo treatment, owing to their huge success rate in treating Vertigo causes & symptoms. These include the well-known Epley Maneuver, the Semont-Toupet maneuver, the Brandt-Daroff exercises, & the half-somersault maneuver. These Vertigo exercises help reinstate the misplaced calcium crystals inside the semicircular canal by performing certain movements & activities. These Vertigo exercises are supposed to be performed according to your healthcare provider’s instructions, & are supposed to be performed a certain number of times each day for optimal results.
- Vertigo Medicines: Vertigo patients are prescribed certain medications to help relieve their Vertigo signs & symptoms. These include Vertigo medicines like Meclizine, Benzodiazepines like diazepam, & medicines for controlling dizziness, nausea, vomiting, & motion sickness. In case of an infection or an injury causing Vertigo symptoms, you will also be given medicines to that effect.
- Home remedies for Vertigo: There are also certain Vertigo home remedies including intaking less salt in your diet, avoiding any vertigo triggers in general, staying stress-free & indulging in stress reducing activities like dancing, yoga, etc. Drinking Ginkgo Biloba also helps in some cases, so does staying hydrated during travel to avoid motion sickness & migraines.
Although most cases of Dizziness resolve on their own without any medical intervention, some need a proper Vertigo treatment plan. Depending on the exact Vertigo causes, Vertigo symptoms can last anywhere between a few weeks to a few months.
Usually, as the underlying condition causing Vertigo signs clears up, the symptoms too, go away. Long-term Vertigo symptoms are rare, except in cases of Central Vertigo. In this case, Vertigo treatment involves treating the immediate symptoms.
In some rare cases, surgery may be needed to either move back the displaced calcium crystals from the inner ear (in case of BPPV), to treat or remove the infected part of the vestibular nerve or the inner ear (in case of an infection), or get a better understanding of the exact issue with the central balance system (in case of central vertigo).