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Vertigo – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Exercises

Vertigo is a condition characterized by a whirling or spinning sensation. The condition make sufferers feel that the world is rotating. Others also feel that they are the ones who are spinning. There are various reasons why some people experience this kind of sensation, but the condition has something to do with some types of inner ear problems. In most cases, the condition is short lived.  But there are those who experience it for longer periods of time.

Although vertigo clears on its own, treatment is available to help those who are afflicted by it so they can deal with vertigo attacks as they often happen without any forewarning. A visit to the doctor is recommended for a definitive diagnosis.

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Is vertigo and dizziness the same?

Vertigo is often mistaken as dizziness and they are even used interchangeably. The two conditions may cause similar sensations but they are different in some ways. Learning the difference between the two is vital when explaining the symptom to the doctor to help him or her come up with the effective treatment. Vertigo is an illusion that the surrounding environment is spinning which may last from mere seconds to several hours and is accompanied by vomiting and nausea. In vertigo, part of the brain or inner ear nerves is affected. On the other hand, dizziness refers to the sensation of faintness, light-headedness or imbalance. It is milder than vertigo due to the absence of the spinning sensation. Besides, dizziness could be constant while vertigo occurs by episodes.

What does vertigo indicate?

Vertigo is an indication that something is wrong in a person’s vestibular system. The vestibular system is composed of the inner ear structures, cerebellum, brainstem and vestibular nerve. It plays a vital role in maintaining proper balance when moving by incorporating the sensory movement and stimuli, as well as in keeping things within visual focus while the body is moving.

There are two forms of vertigo and these are:

  • Objective vertigo

An objective vertigo makes the person feel that the world is spinning around him or her.

  • Subjective vertigo

A subjective vertigo makes an individual feel that the he or she is turning.

How does vertigo occur?

Vertigo occurs when the small calcium stones inside the ear are impaired. The small calcium stones are found in the utricle and move around inside the ear whenever movement is made. Ear inflammation or infection will paralyze these stones, sending off wrong signals onto the brain, thereby, disturbing one’s balance.

Who will most likely be affected by vertigo?

A higher incidence of vertigo is noted among adults, especially in women, and increases with age. The condition affects approximately 40% of Americans at least once during their lifetime.

What conditions give rise to vertigo?

There are a number of medical conditions that may result to vertigo, and these include:

  • Menier’s Disease

This is an inner ear disorder characterized by the build-up of excess fluids in the inner ear. The disease can instigate severe vertigo episodes which may last up to 24 hours.

  • Labyrinthitis

This condition is characterized by the inflammation of the inner ear due to viral or bacterial infection.

  • Vestibular Neuritis

This medical condition occurs when the vestibular nerve is infected. The vestibular nerve is responsible for carrying the information pertaining to balance between the brain and inner ear. Vestibular neuritis is due to viral infection, usually following a flu or common cold.

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV occurs when debris from the labyrinth breaks off, entering the ear cavity which is filled with fluid. When head movement is made, the debris scrapes against the hair-lined cavity sending the brain perplexing messages which results in disorientation.

Vertigo may also occur due to migraine, neck or head injury, acoustic neuroma, chronic inner ear infection as well as certain medications.

How is vertigo diagnosed?

Proper diagnosis of vertigo is extremely important as this can point to the medical condition causing it. The diagnosis often involves considering the clinical history of the patient, followed by neurological and physical examinations. The doctor will find some problems pertaining to patient’s coordination, walking stride, equilibrium and strength. Electronystagmography as well as Magnetic Resonance Imaging may also be done to test the sight and hearing ability and examine the brain tissues.

What are the treatment options for vertigo?

Treatment for vertigo depends on the medical condition causing it, as well as the seriousness of vertigo attacks. Treatment generally resolves related symptoms including nausea, vomiting, swollen inner ear and ringing sound in the ear.

In what way do vertigo exercises help in treating vertigo?

Exercises specially designed for vertigo treatment help patients by training the eye and head movements, relax the shoulders and neck muscles as well as address the balancing problems to relieve the unbearable effects of imbalance. Some of these exercises are:

  • Brandt-Daroff Exercise
  • Epley Maneuver
  • Eye exercises
  • Exercising with balls

Vertigo is harmless but it still requires doctor’s consultation for a more definitive diagnosis because it is a symptom of underlying medical condition.

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