What is Vertigo?

Last Updated Jul 29, 2020

What is vertigo? We all know that it is a feeling of dizziness often associated with "fear of heights," but it is also a medical condition that can be experienced at any time. A physiotherapist, an herbalist or a homoeopath in your area may be able to treat the symptoms of your vertigo, but it is important to understand the causes of vertigo in order to find the right vertigo treatments.Read on and discover the facts about vertigo: you may be surprised..

There are also many natural and pharmaceutical remedies available. These include many herbal remedies.An

What is Vertigo?

The word, "vertigo" comes from a Latin word that means, "a spinning or whirling movement" and this fairly accurately describes the primary symptom of vertigo. Medically, vertigo is divided into two categories:

  • Subjective vertigo is the sensation that you are "spinning or whirling."

  • Objective vertigo is the false perception that your surroundings are moving.

The most common type of vertigo is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is usually caused by rapid changes in head movements such as that experienced when you spin around in place. It can also occur when doing tasks that involve lifting the head or making repeated rapid head movements. In many cases, BPPV is also caused by temporary ear blockages.

Vertigo Symptoms

While the symptoms of either subjective or objective vertigo are easily recognised, the important things to note are their duration and apparent cause. If you are working on the computer, for instance and experience a dizzy sensation, it may be because you have lifted or turned your head after being focused on the computer screen for an extended period. If the symptoms pass and do not return, there is probably no reason for immediate concern. If vertigo occurs for no apparent reason, though, it may be advisable to seek medical advice. A look at the causes of vertigo explains the reasons for both BPPV and more serious symptoms of vertigo.

Vertigo Causes

The sense of balance and "groundedness" we feel is so habitual, we take it for granted until something happens to upset that familiar feeling. We get that sense of balance from the way sensory input is processed. The causes of vertigo are directly related to our sensory organs, most frequently our inner ears. Some of these causes include:

  • Labyrinthitis (or vestibular neuritis) is a type of vertigo caused by an inflammation of the inner ear due to a viral or bacterial infection. It is sometimes also associated with hearing loss. Depending on the cause, it may or may not become a serious and long lasting problem.

  • Along with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss, vertigo is one of the symptoms of Meniere's disease. In this case, the onset of vertigo is abrupt and severe. It may pass, but usually recurs. Any apparently "causeless" onset of intense vertigo like this should be explored by a medical specialist.

  • Head trauma can cause vertigo.

  • Vertigo is one of the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis. It usually comes abruptly and for no apparent reason. In this case, an eye examination is often the first diagnostic procedure undertaken because at the onset of MS the eyes lose the ability to move normally.

  • Diabetes can cause arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). This in turn can diminish blood flow to the ears and cause vertigo.

  • Migraine headaches are often preceded by a bout of vertigo.

Vertigo Treatments

Vertigo treatments range from simple self care treatments to specific treatments that should be taught and administered by trained healthcare professionals only. If you experience a simple bout of BPPV, some simple self care treatments include:

  • Lying down with the head in an elevated position unlike the symptoms pass.

  • Drinking plenty of fluids.

  • Ceasing the activity you believe caused the vertigo.

A couple of non-invasive, drug-free procedures are available for relieving the symptoms of vertigo. One of these is a series of head movements called the Epley maneuvres. These are designed to loosen and remove the accumulation of crystalline debris from the ears. This should only be undertaken under expert supervision because unless they are done correctly, they can make the vertigo worse. A physiotherapist trained in this or another physical therapy may be able to treat persistent vertigo.

If the onset of vertigo is sudden, severe and/or inexplicable, proper diagnosis is vital. Get the right medical attention first and then explore the options for treating your vertigo symptoms.

Originally published on Oct 28, 2011

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