What Is Vertigo?
Vertigo is one of those things that are hard to explain unless you suffer from it. Instead the easiest way to describe it is to draw a parallel with everyday life.
Essentially think of yourself when reaching above for a book or two on a shelf. At first you are fine. Then suddenly your head starts spinning, you may feel a bit nauseous and even faint. The sensation is that you are moving more than you are, more rapidly and it appears to be going from different heights.
You have to stop what you are doing, reaching up, stand upright and stand still to re-align your sense of equilibrium. Okay, so that is how vertigo feels but the above situation is quite normal apparently when you get up suddenly or presumably go from a lower place to somewhere higher up or reach up.
Types Of Vertigo
So now we have an everyday description of what vertigo feels like, what does science have to say about it? In scientific terms vertigo is described generally as a feeling you are moving when in fact you are not. As explained it is normal to have the sensation of vertigo or dizziness in the above instances.
However true vertigo occurs for two reasons:
#1. Peripheral Vertigo
This is caused by the imbalance within the inner ear. It is usually caused by one of the following causes:
- Labyrinthitis – basically the inflammation of the labyrinth of the inner ear plus the vestibular nerve. The vestibular nerve encodes the body’s movement and position. This health condition is quite disabling. It can cause those effected to keel over and be unable to work until the condition has been treated.
- Menieres Disease is another cause but this is combined with bacterial and viral infection too. It is caused by a build up of high pressure fluid in the inner ear. It is worth noting that Menieres can also be caused by immune and metabolic disorders.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is another cause of peripheral vertigo. In this instance the calcium crystals within the inner ear fluid. With BPPV the inner fluid continues sending false signals that the body is still moving. This is usually caused by either a prior episode of labyrinthitis, a head injury, ear surgery, prolonged bed rest or reduced blood flow to the brain.
#2. Central Vertigo
This is the other type of vertigo and relates to the Central Nervous System (C.N.S.).
The following are the main causes for this:
- Disturbance between the sensory and the thalamus part of the brain which controls sensory and motor organs.
- Disturbance in the parts of the brain that deal with vision and balance.
- Ordinarily migraines cause central vertigo. In more serious instances heart attacks, multiple sclerosis, tumor or other non-cancerous growths can cause central vertigo.
If you suspect you have vertigo get to a doctor and ask to have either the Head Impulse Test, Romberg’s Test, Unterbergers Test, the Dix-Hallpike or a series of other medical tests that can distinguish if you have vertigo and what type.
Can Vertigo be cured?
The good news is vertigo can be treated to at least the discomfort can be alleviated in most cases. In very mild cases, the patient just waits for the vertigo to clear itself.
In other instances a strong course of antibiotics may be needed. In other cases it may be necessary for a trained medic to perform a Epley maneuver where the patient is moved to different gravitational positions to dislodge particles to fix the vertigo.
For those who suffer from severe vertigo, drugs may be injected or dissolved in the mouth between the gum and the cheek. One such popular medication is prochlorperazine. Also it goes without saying that for some people ear surgery is the only option to address the vertigo.
On a final note is worth mentioning that vertigo can be caused by an excess build up of wax. Ear candling by a qualified person who stays present during the procedure plus using the right concentration of diluted alcohol can be helpful in drying out excess fluid in the inner ear.
Whatever you do, be careful when trying out any home remedy cures to do anything with your ear. It is best leaving it to the doctor who knows what he is doing and what is the right amount of pressure.
If none of the above are the source of your vertigo get your blood pressure checked. It may be the cause of it. Last of all, don’t panic if you do experience vertigo. It is more common than you think:-)