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YOU SPIN ME RIGHT ‘ROUND - Causes and symptoms of Vertigo

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What’s Vertigo?

Vertigo is a little understood medical problem that people misunderstand to only be experienced by
people when they are at a height or in motion. 

Many are surprised to know that vertigo is one of the most common medical complaints. Vertigo is the
feeling that you are moving when in fact you are not or a dizziness that continues even when sitting still. Vertigo can feel like motion sickness - like sea or car sickness, but it is in fact usually attributable to a problem of the inner ear. Most patients with vertigo present with a constant complaint of feeling spinning.

Peripheral vertigo is the most common type of vertigo – a result of a problem of the inner ear, or the
vestibular nerve which connects the inner ear to the brain.

The Vestibular System is responsible for integrating sensory stimuli and movement of the body. Located in the inner ear, it allows your body to keep objects in visual focus when the body moves. [1] The inner ear is comprised of structures that feed the brain information regarding head balance, posture, the body's orientation in space and other movements. It is what keeps objects in visual focus as the body moves. The vestibular system works with other sensory systems in the body, for example, the eyes, bones, and joints, to check and maintain the positioning of the body at rest and in motion. Simply put, its job is to consistently judge the precise position of your head during movement.

 

Symptoms of Vertigo

Vertigo is often triggered by a change in the
position of your head. People with vertigo typically describe it as feeling
like they are:

  • Spinning
  • Tilting
  • Swaying
  • Unbalanced
  •  Pulled to one direction

Other symptoms that may accompany vertigo include:

  • Feeling nauseous
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal or jerking eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Ringing in the ears or hearing loss

 

Common Causes of Vertigo

With Peripheral vertigo accounting for 93 percent of all cases of vertigo in Australia [2] , there are three common causes of this type of vertigo:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, BPPV occurs when tiny calcium particles (canaliths) clump up in canals of the inner ear. The inner ear sends signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity. It helps you keep your balance.
  • Vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis, is an inner ear problem usually related to infection (usually viral). The infection causes inflammation in the inner ear around nerves that are important for helping the body sense balance.
  • Meniere disease is an inner ear disorder thought to be caused by a build-up of fluid and changing pressure in the ear. It can cause episodes of vertigo along with ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss.

 

Treatment for Vertigo

There are a range of treatment options for vertigo which range from special exercises to remove the source of the problem, medication to dampen the sensations of dizziness to surgery in extreme cases.

There are a series of physical examinations for balance, eye movements, blood pressure and positional testing that are used to determine what is causing your vertigo which will determine your course of
treatment.

Dr Indu Gunawardena assesses the severity of your vertigo and its likely causes through a series of examinations including ear examination, hearing loss tests, balance and gait examinations. If
necessary, she will organise for the patient to have scans to further define the vertigo.

Depending on the diagnosis, there are a range of treatment options she may recommend which can include but are not limited to special exercises to remove the source of the problem, medication to dampen the sensations of dizziness or surgery in more severe cases.

Vertigo and imbalance can have major effects on quality of life with many patients resort to limiting their movement to help reduce the symptoms. Seek treatment if you are experiencing any of the symptoms
listed. 

To learn more, contact us to make an appointment with Dr Indu to discuss your concerns and treatment options on vertigo. 

 

[1] https://www.backinmotion.com.au/blog/article/what-is-vertigo

[2] Halmagyi GM, Cremer PD. Assessment and treatment of dizziness. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2000;68;129–34  http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/200805/200805kuo.pdf