What is Vertigo?

Vertigo

It is a medical term used to describe dizzy spells and is commonly associated with people with balance disorder. People with vertigo feel weak and it seemed like the world is spinning around. Health experts believed that vertigo is not a disease, but a symptom of an underlying disease, especially in the inner ear. It can also be caused by an underlying visual problem. Vertigo differs from the usual dizziness because with vertigo you will feel weak and dizzy even if you are just standing. It would be very difficult for you to move because you feel like the whole world is spinning around.

Vertigo attack lasts for several minutes, but can go on for several days or weeks. People with vertigo do not only experience dizziness, but as well as other symptoms like nausea with or without vomiting, blurring of vision, spinning sensation, earache, lightheaded, and unsteady gait.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF VERTIGO?

  • It is associated with inner ear and brain problem.
  • It can be caused by low blood pressure.
  • It is caused by migraine and headache.
  • It is associated with injury to the head and neck.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF VERTIGO?

  • Unsteady gait
  • Swaying and tilting
  • Spinning sensation
  • Feeling like you are being pulled to one direction
  • Nystagmus or abnormal movement of the eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Feeling nauseated
  • Ringing sensation in the ears (tinnitus)

TYPES OF VERTIGO

Peripheral Vertigo

This is associated with inner ear infection. The inner ear contains labyrinth, which is composed of tiny organs responsible for sending messages to the brain. These organs alarm the brain whenever there are movements from vertical position. Through these tiny organs, we are able to control our sense of balance. Among the inner ear diseases associated with vertigo are labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease, and vestibular neuronitis.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

It is a type of vertigo associated with abnormalities in the otolith particles. What are otolith particles? They are calcium carbonate crystals inside the inner. During movement, these crystals pull the sensory hair cell thereby stimulating the vestibular nerves to send signals to the brain. What happened with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is that the fluid continues to move even after the head has completely stopped moving. This type of vertigo can affect both men and women, but the prevalence is higher in women. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is also associated with reduced blood flow in particular areas of the brain, injury involving the head, surgery to the ears, prolonged bed rest, as well as episode of labyrinthitis.

Central Vertigo

This type of vertigo is usually caused by a disturbance in the central nervous system including the brainstem and cerebellum. These two structures are responsible in the interaction between the sense of balance and sense of vision.

HOW TO DIAGNOSE VERTIGO?

Dix-Hallpike Test

This test confirms benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This test provokes benign paroxysmal positional vertigo by reproducing movements. The doctor will position you in a sitting position to a lying down position. Afterwards, the head will be turned to 45 degrees and then move to 30 degrees down.  A positive result will be detected if the doctor observes rapid eye movement and the patient verbalizes vertigo.

Head Impulse Test

It involves quick movement of the head and the doctor will watch for signs of eye reaction. A positive result indicates that the vertigo is caused by peripheral inner ear problem. If the result of head impulse test is negative, then the doctor will need to further investigate the cause of vertigo. The underlying cause could be blood clotting and/or narrowing of the blood vessels.

Romberg’s Test

A positive vertigo test is confirmed if you are standing up and your gait becomes unsteady when closing your eyes.

OTHER VERTIGO CONFIRMATORY TESTS INCLUDE:

  • Unterberger’s test
  • Videonystagmography – imaging test for nystagmus
  • Electronystagmography – electrical test for nystagmus

WHAT ARE TREATMENTS FOR VERTIGO?

There are various treatment methods for vertigo, but the treatment of choice varies depending on the root cause of the problem. Vertigo usually comes and goes without having the need for any treatments. The human brain has the ability to adapt to the changes affecting the body’s sense of balance. However, if vertigo becomes persistent and severe; then treatments are needed and it will include the following:

Vestibular Rehabilitation

This is a physical therapy approach that aims to strengthen the vestibular system. The vestibular system sends signals to the brain whenever there are movements of the head and body. If you are one of those many people who are suffering from recurrent vertigo, then vestibular rehabilitation is the best approach to vertigo. A perfect example of vestibular rehabilitation therapy is canalith repositioning maneuver. This method is effective for people suffering from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). The goal of canalith repositioning maneuver is to move the calcium deposits from the ear canal going to the inner chamber. That way, it will be easily absorbed by the body.

Medication

If your vertigo is accompanied by nausea and vomiting, then your doctor will prescribe medications to help alleviate the symptoms. Steroids and antibiotics are usually prescribed if vertigo is associated with inflammation or infection. If vertigo is caused by an underlying disease condition like Meniere’s disease, then your doctor will prescribe diuretics to help flush out excessive fluids from the body.

Surgical Approach

If vertigo is caused by serious disease condition, then a surgical procedure will be performed. However, this method should only be performed after a thorough assessment of the condition. Keep in mind that surgical treatment for vertigo should always be the last resort. A surgery will be performed is the vertigo is caused by severe injury to the head, neck, or tumor.

NATURAL TREATMENT FOR VERTIGO

Diet Modification

People suffering from vertigo should pay particular attention to their diet. They should avoid foods high in cholesterol. They should eat foods containing essential vitamins such as fruits and green leafy vegetables.

Hydration

Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. Make sure you drink at least 10 glasses of water a day. It will not only help alleviate the symptoms of vertigo, but as well as helps you get rid of various diseases.

Exercise

Exercise does not only nourish the body, but as well as the mind. Regular exercise keeps your blood pressure level in its normal range. As you know, one of the primary causes of vertigo is low blood pressure.

Vitamin D Supplement

If you are diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, then it is important to make sure that your body contains adequate amount of vitamin D. It is important to consult your doctor in order to find out if you are suffering from vitamin D deficiency.

Herbs

There are certain herbs that are proven helpful in alleviating the symptoms of vertigo. Examples of these herbs are ginkgo biloba and ginger root.

Healthy Lifestyle

For people suffering from vertigo having a healthy lifestyle is very important. As mentioned above, you should increase your intake of fruits and green leafy vegetables. You should limit your intake of caffeinated beverages. Lastly, you should not drink alcoholic beverages and smoke tobacco.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a part of the traditional Chinese medicine. It is believed that the underlying cause for vertigo is blockage in the flow of energy around the ears. To facilitate the flow of energy, needles should be used. That way, the dizziness and spinning feeling will be alleviated.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE YOUR DOCTOR?

If you are exhibiting signs and symptoms of vertigo, then you should have it checked by your primary care physician. Most cases of vertigo disappear on its own, but you have to be aware that it can be debilitating too. Furthermore, you have to see your doctor if you are suffering severe headache, severe weakness, double vision, irregular eye movements, difficulty speaking, confusion, lack of coordination, unsteady gait, and altered level of consciousness.

HISTORY AND PHYSICAL EXAMINATION

Subjective and Objective Symptoms

The examining physician will ask and observe signs and symptoms of vertigo such as abnormal movement of the eyes, nausea with or without vomiting, excessive sweating, and dizziness.

Duration of Symptoms

The examining physician will ask about the history of vertigo, how long the symptoms have been and whether or not the vertigo comes and goes. The doctor will also rule out whether the vertigo is associated with movement or sudden change in position. Furthermore, the doctor will assess any medications you are currently taking and whether or not they cause the vertigo.

Is the Vertigo Ear-Related?

Vertigo is commonly associated with ear disturbances. Hence, the examining doctor will assess whether you are experiencing hearing symptoms such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or hearing loss prior to episodes of dizziness. The doctor will also assess if the patient is experiencing neurological symptoms such as visual disturbances, weakness, difficulty speaking, unsteady gain, and altered level of consciousness.

HOW TO PREVENT VERTIGO?

  • If you had had episodes of dizziness before, then you should take extra precaution from falls and injuries.
  • If you are suffering from Meniere’s disease, then you should carefully watch your food intake. You should limit your intake of foods rich in sodium chloride (salt) as they promote water retention.
  • You should keep your blood pressure level in normal range.
  • Avoid foods high in cholesterol.
  • Drink alcoholic beverage moderately.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

 

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