Vertigo is a false sense of movement or spinning. It can be caused by a problem with the inner ear, which is responsible for balance and spatial orientation, or with the brain.
The most common cause of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV occurs when tiny calcium crystals (otoliths) in the inner ear become dislodged and move into the wrong canal. This can cause a brief, intense feeling of spinning when you move your head in a certain way.
Other causes of vertigo include:
- Labyrinthitis: An inflammation of the inner ear, usually caused by a viral infection.
- Vestibular neuritis: An inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brain.
- Ménière’s disease: A chronic inner ear disorder that causes vertigo, hearing loss, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
- Migraines: Vertigo can be a symptom of a migraine attack.
- Head injury: A head injury can damage the inner ear or the brain, causing vertigo.
- Stroke: A stroke can damage the part of the brain that controls balance, causing vertigo.
- Certain medications: Some medications, such as antibiotics, can cause vertigo as a side effect.
The main symptom of vertigo is a false sense of movement or spinning. Other symptoms of vertigo may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty walking
- Nystagmus (rapid eye movements)
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Hearing loss
Treatment for vertigo depends on the underlying cause. For BPPV, there are a number of simple exercises that can be done to reposition the otoliths and relieve the symptoms of vertigo. For labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis, treatment typically involves medication to reduce inflammation and nausea. For Ménière’s disease, treatment may involve medication, dietary changes, and surgery.
If you are experiencing vertigo, it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and discuss treatment options.
Additional tips for managing vertigo
- Avoid sudden movements of the head.
- Get up slowly from a sitting or lying position.
- Use a cane or walker for balance if needed.
- Avoid driving or operating machinery if you are experiencing vertigo.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Manage stress.
If you have any questions or concerns about vertigo, talk to your doctor.