Vertigo is a form of dizziness characterized by the feeling that you or your environment is moving or spinning, despite the lack of any actual movement. This sensation is brought on by disturbances in the inner ear or the brain.
What Are the Types of Vertigo?
Peripheral vertigo is associated with problems in the inner ear. The vestibular system sends signals to the brain about the position of the head in relation to movement, enabling us to keep our balance and maintain equilibrium. When these signals are disrupted, vertigo results.
Causes of peripheral vertigo include:
- Inflammation related to a viral infection – this is commonly associated with two conditions: labyrinthitis (inflammation of the inner ear’s labyrinth and vestibular nerve), and vestibular neuronitis (inflammation of the vestibular nerve).
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – this occurs when tiny pieces of calcium break off and float in the tube of the inner ear, sending confusing messages to the brain.
- Meniere’s disease – this involves excess pressure of the fluid in the inner ear.
Central vertigo occurs when there is a problem in the brain, usually affecting the brainstem or the cerebellum. These parts of the brain are responsible for interactions between the visual and balance systems; any disturbance can lead to vertigo. The most common cause of central vertigo is a migraine headache. Other less common conditions that can trigger central vertigo include stroke, tumors, multiple sclerosis and other neurologic disorders, alcohol and certain drugs.
What Symptoms Are Associated with Vertigo?
Technically speaking, vertigo is a symptom itself. It’s characterized by the sensation that you or the room is moving or spinning. This may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, hearing loss, tinnitus, difficulty focusing or moving the eyes, double vision and a feeling of fullness in the ear.
How Is Vertigo Treated?
Treatment varies depending on the type and severity of vertigo. Some causes of vertigo will resolve on their own without treatment. The most common cause of vertigo, BPPV, responds well to head maneuvers. Vertigo can also be treated with medication or physical therapy.
Call River ENT at (512) 677-6368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.