Everything You Need to Know About Vertigo

Gunjan Lal
September 27, 2016
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Everything You Need to Know About Vertigo

Vertigo is a kind of sensation of whirling and loss of balance (imbalance), associated particularly with looking at fast moving objects or looking down from a great height; basically, when you feel like the world around you is spinning or swaying when it's not. It can be typically associated with vomiting, nausea, sweating, or difficulty while walking. Vertigo worsens when you move your head even slightly. There are two most common forms of vertigo - central vertigo and peripheral vertigo.

Is there a difference between dizziness and vertigo?

The term 'dizziness' is often used by people when they talk about different kinds of symptoms altogether. These symptoms would include - unsteadiness or the sense of imbalance or staggering while walking or standing (also called disequilibrium); lightheadedness or the almost fainting- like feeling that one might get (also called presyncope), lightheadedness may be caused by low blood pressure or a heart problem; hyperventilation or anxiety (rapid breathing) may also cause dizziness; and lastly, vertigo, the feeling like you or the world around you is moving.

While there are many reasons that might cause dizziness, vertigo can be counted as one of them - therefore, in other words, you can call vertigo as a symptom of dizziness or a specific kind of dizziness. If you feel any kind of above mentioned symptoms of dizziness you must clearly explain the symptom to your doctor because the diagnosis, cause and treatment for each symptom differ. When someone (a patient) complains of dizziness, the symptom might arise from vertigo only half of the time

What are the signs & symptoms of Vertigo?

Vertigo's symptoms are commonly associated with vomiting or nausea, unsteadiness (postural instability), changes to a person's thoughts, falls, and difficulties in walking. Such recurrent episodes in the patients suffering with vertigo are somewhat common and frequently hinder the quality of life. Difficulty in speaking, blurred vision, a lowered level of consciousness, and hearing loss could also occur. These signs and symptoms of vertigo can present as an episodic (sudden) onset or a persistent (insidious) onset.

Persistent onset vertigo is distinguished by symptoms lasting for more than one day and is caused by degenerative changes which affect balance as the patient ages. Persistent onset is usually paired with central vertigo's signs and systems.

The characterization of an episodic onset vertigo is indicated by symptoms that last for a smaller and more memorable amount of time (typically lasting for only a couple of seconds to minutes). Typically, episodic onset is related to peripheral vertigo's symptoms and can be the outcome of but not limited to diabetic neuropathy or an autoimmune disease.

What are the types of vertigo?

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Vertigo can be divided into two types - central and peripheral depending upon the location of the dysfunction of the vestibular pathway, alternatively, it can also be caused due to psychological factors. It can also be classified differently into objective, subjective, and pseudo vertigo.

Objective vertigo is caused when a person feels the kind of sensation in which stationary objects in the environment seem to be moving. Subjective vertigo is referred to when the person feels as if they are in motion while they're not. The third type, known as pseudo vertigo is an intensive sensation of spinning inside a person's head.

What Causes Peripheral Vertigo?

Peripheral vertigo is the most common type of vertigo, so if your doctor tells you that this is the one that you have then you can take a deep breath because you're not alone. Most cases of Peripheral vertigo are caused by a problem in the inner ear (or the vestibular system)which basically controls your balance. The usual causes of trouble in the inner eat which lead to Peripheral vertigo are - Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Vestibular neuronitis, Meniere's disease, Labyrinthitis, Perilymph fistula, and Superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome (SSCDS). Let's take a closer look at these reasons.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo

BPPV is a medical condition that is caused when small crystals to loosen up and start to float in the fluid of your inner ear. This movement of the small crystals in the fluid causes you to feel dizzy. At times, an ear injury can also lead to Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

Vestibular neuronitis

Vestibular neuronitis is a disorder that affects a particular nerve of the inner ear known as the vestibulocochlear nerve. This nerve is responsible for sending head position and balance information from the inner ear to your brain. This disorder causes severe dizziness that comes up suddenly and lasts for two to three weeks. Medical professionals think an infection with a virus could be the cause of this disorder.

Meniere's disease

Meniere's disease is another condition that combines symptoms of occasional hearing loss along with dizziness. Doctors are not really sure about the reasons that lead to this disease, though they believe that stress can be a trigger, along with drinking caffeine and alcohol or eating excessive salt.

Labyrinthitis

When one of the vestibular nerves in your inner ear (nerves that send your brain information about balance control and spatial navigation) becomes inflamed, it creates a labyrinthitis condition. Labyrinthitis is believed to be caused due to infections and viruses in the inner ear.

Perilymph fistula (PLF)

Perilymph fistula (or PLF) is an abnormal connection (a defect or tear) in either one or both of the small, thin membranes which separate the air filled middle part of your ear and the fluid-filled perilymphatic space of the inner ear. This small opening lets the perilymph (fluid) leak into the middle ear causing dysfunction. This condition may be caused due to a head injury or even sudden pressure change, such as from scuba diving.

Superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome (or SSCDS)

The vestibular and auditory signs and symptoms can result from an opening in the bone overlying the superior semicircular canal of the inner ear. This clinical syndrome is known as superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome (SSCD). People with SSCD syndrome can experience vertigo and oscillopsia (which means the feeling that stationary seems to be moving) which is usually evoked by loud noises or by activities that change middle ear or intracranial pressure such as sneezing, coughing, or straining.

What Causes Central Vertigo?

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Vertigo that is caused by an injury to the balance centers of your central nervous system (CNS), often due to a lesion in the cerebellum or brainstem, is known as 'central vertigo'. It is generally related to less prominent movements, illusions, and nausea than that of peripheral vertigo's origins. Central vertigo may be accompanied by neurologic deficits (for instance slurred speech or double vision), and pathologic nystagmus (which is pure vertical/torsional). Central pathology can cause disequilibrium - which is the feeling of being off balance. The balance disorder which is in regard with central lesions causing vertigo is often very severe, so much so that many patients are unable to walk or even stand on their own.

The causes of Central vertigo include - lesions caused by infarctions or hemorrhage, head injuries, illness or infection, Migraines, Brain tumors, Multiple sclerosis, Strokes, and Transient ischemic attacks ("mini" strokes that last for a short time not causing any permanent damage) epilepsy, cervical spine disorders such as cervical spondylosis, lateral medullary syndrome, Chiari malformation, parkinsonism, as well as cerebral dysfunction.

Exercises for Vertigo

Brandt-Daroff Exercise for Vertigo

The Brandt-Daroff exercise is one of many exercises which intend to speed up the compensation process and help put an end to the symptoms of vertigo. It often is recommended for people who have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and at times for labyrinthitis too. Keep in mind that these exercises will not completely cure these conditions. But with time they can surely reduce symptoms of vertigo. Patients who are recommended to do this exercise are usually told to repeat it multiple time and instructed to do it at least twice a day.

How to do the Brandt-Daroff exercise?

Start with an upright seated position. Now, move to the lying position on one side making sure your nose pointed up (at about a 45 degree angle).

Lay still in this position for about 30 seconds (or till vertigo subsides, whichever seems longer). Then reverse into the seated position as before.

Repeat the same on the other side too.

Epley Maneuver Exercise for Vertigo

Epley Maneuver is for people who experience vertigo from their left ear and side. Here is how you should go about it.

Start by sitting on the edge of your bed and place a pillow behind you so that when you lie down, it rests on your shoulders, not under your head. Then turn your head to the left at 45 degrees.

Lie down on the bed with your face up and the back of your head on the bed (remain at the 45 degree angle). Make sure that the pillow is under your shoulders. Wait for about 30 seconds (for your vertigo to stop) then turn your head half-way (at about 90 degrees) to the right without raising it. Again, wait for about 30 seconds.

Now, turn your body as well as your head on its side towards the right, so that you're looking at the floor and stay still for another 30 seconds. Finally, sit up slowly but remain on the bed a couple of minutes.

Note, if vertigo emerges from your right ear, reverse the above-mentioned instructions (sit on your bed and turn your head 45 degrees to the RIGHT, and so on). Perform this exercise three times before going to bed every night, until the time you go 24 hours without any dizziness.

Half Somersault or Foster Maneuver

Some people find this one easier to do. Here's how you should go about it.

Start by kneeling down and looking up at the ceiling for a few seconds. Following that touch the floor with your head - tuck in your chin so that your head is pushed toward your knees. Wait for the vertigo to stop (or stay still for about 30 seconds).

Next, turn your head in the direction of your affected ear to face the elbow on that particular side (i.e. if you feel dizzy on your left side, turn to face toward your left elbow). Again, wait 30 seconds. After that raise your head so it's in level with your back while you are on all fours. Keep your head constant at that 45 degree angle and stay still for another 30 seconds.

Lastly, quickly raise your head making sure that it's fully upright; also be sure to keep your head turned towards the shoulder of the side you're working on. Then slowly stand up.

Note - You may have to perform this exercise in repetition for a few times to get relief. After the first round, rest for 15 minutes before trying it the second time.

Follow Up Advice

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Before starting these exercises do refer to your doctor once, they allow it most of the times. After doing any of these exercises, try not to tilt your head extremely far up or down for the whole day. In case you don't feel better after about a week of trying these movements, talk to your doctor once again, there might be a reason why these exercises are not affecting you. You may not be doing the exercises right or something else could be the cause of your dizziness or your doctor might suggest you some other exercise. In any case, I'd recommend you to have a word with your doctor.

Doctor's Recommendations

Here are some potent homeopathic medicines for the treatment of Vertigo, recommended by Dr. Mugdha Agarwal, a homeopathic medicine expert.

Conium - This medicine should be taken by people who suffer from the kind of Vertigo that arises from a sudden movement or when you move from a resting position. In addition to that, this medicine is also recommended to patients who suffer vertigo due to old age.

Cocculus - This medicine is recommended for patients who suffer from Vertigo as a side effect of cervical or spondylitis. Also, people who go through episodes of vertigo while sitting in a moving object or viewing a fast moving object should also take this medicine.

China & Gelsemium - A combination of these two medicines should be taken by people who have vertigo episodes after a period of an illness or a general weakness.

NOTE - These medicines are to be taken by adults in 200 potency. For further concerns or questions regarding the medicines comment below.

Gunjan Lal

Gunjan Lal

Hi! I’m Gunjan, a self-proclaimed tea fanatic and intrigued with alternative ways to lead a healthy life. I firmly believe that we should take care of our bodies because it’s the only place we live in.

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