Otolaryngologists may zero in on one of many causes for vertigo. How can you narrow it down and stop the spinning?
Publish 2 December 2021
What is Vertigo?
You are trapped in a winding helix of your own mind. Rising up sends you crashing into walls, if not down to the floor. A medical specialist suspects a defect within the inner ear canal. But prescriptions for your vertigo provide no relief. You fear being like some who suffer years of debilitation.
Vertigo is the sensation of spiral movement that can result in disequilibrium, nausea, headaches, and fatigue. Episodes can be transient or frequent. A brief occurrence can last a few seconds. Severe symptoms are similar to a binge-drinking hangover.
Some people sense dizziness when looking down from high altitudes. With vertigo, you feel dizzy on level ground. Most organs of balance are within the inner ear. Our eyes, arms, and toes can assist with stabilization. An individual able to stand on one foot can find it a challenge to do so with eyes closed.
Types of Peripheral Vertigo
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common type of peripheral vertigo. You may experience momentary lightheadedness that last less than 20 seconds. This results from dislodged tiny crystals in the inner ear.
Vestibular neuronitis causes more severe dizziness that lasts for a few weeks and comes on suddenly.
Meniere’s disease is a condition that combines symptoms of dizziness with occasional hearing loss. Stress, excess salt, drinking caffeine and alcohol are possible triggers.
A viral infection of your inner ear can lead to labyrinthitis. Sudden pressure change a head injury can cause perilymph fistula. A deterioration of sections of a bony part of a canal that carries fluids in your inner ear can cause superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome. These are all forms of peripheral vertigo.
Serious Central Vertigo
Central vertigo lasts longer than peripheral vertigo. Causes include disease or brain injury.
Central Vertigo Causes
- Brain tumors
- Head injuries
- Illness or infection
- Multiple sclerosis
- Transient ischemic attacks
With peripheral or central vertigo, sometimes the pupils of your eyes dart back and forth or rotate quickly during a vertigo episode. Focus on a stationary object for eyes to stabilize.
You might sense your environment swirling around you. At times you may feel like you are moving through your surroundings. You can have the sensation of swimming under water, floating through the air, or riding a roller coaster. Do not drive or operate machinery while experiencing vertigo.
Relief From Vertigo
You can build up toxins within your digestive tract. As they try to escape you may notice skin splotches, a coating on your tongue, and dizziness. Endeavor to clear your system with a complete bowel movement.
A physician with a subspecialty of otolaryngology is called an otolaryngologist or ear, nose, and throat doctor. Vertigo is a symptom of a problem, not a disease in itself. During your examination, the goal is to determine frequency and duration of episodes. Then the otolaryngologist must identify the underlying cause. It may come from within, as in the case of an infection or tumor. Sometimes an environmental allergy is the trigger.
It is important not to assume BPPV just because it is most common. This can lead to the wrong treatment. By addressing the root problem, you can regain equilibrium and get relief from the spinning. Or at least, lengthen the time between episodes.
UPDATED: SEP 10, 2023