What is vertigo and why does it make you feel dizzy?

What is vertigo and why does it make you feel dizzy?

Vertigo is a symptom rather than a condition in itself. It’s experiencing a sense of spinning dizziness. This can happen as a result of problems in the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerve pathway.

What causes vertigo?

There are several conditions that can cause vertigo. These include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
    This is the most common cause of vertigo. It is characterized by experiencing a spinning motion for a few seconds to minutes. It is usually initiated by sudden head movements or moving the head in certain directions.
  • Labyrinthitis 

Also known as inflammation of the inner ear (the labyrinth), labyrinthitis can have a viral or bacterial cause. Its symptoms, including vertigo, may last for days until the inflammation subsides.

  • Acoustic neuroma
    This condition pertains to a type of tumor that affects the inner ear. Vertigo with one-sided ringing and hearing loss are some of its symptoms.
  • Meniere’s disease
    People suffering from Meniere’s disease often experience a sudden onset of vertigo and fluctuating hearing loss.

    The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is still unknown but medical experts believe it has something to do with allergies, viral infections, and head injury.
  • Multiple sclerosis
    Vertigo is usually a presenting symptom of multiple sclerosis, alongside the inability of the eyes to move past the midline toward the nose.

What’s the difference between dizziness and vertigo?

Although vertigo is similar to dizziness, it creates a slightly different kind of dizzying sensation. 

When you have vertigo, you may feel that the room is spinning or you’re off-balance. These sensations can be triggered even by simple movements like rolling over in bed and changing positions.

Dizziness, on the other hand, is a feeling that many patients describe as about to pass out. It’s also described as having sensations of floating or lightheadedness. 

How is vertigo treated?

Some cases of vertigo improve over time without treatment. However, there are those cases on which vertigo may persist for months or even years.

Treatment options for vertigo vary, depending on its underlying cause. 

Patients with BPPV may benefit from a series of simple head movements known as Epley maneuver. Vertigo patients may also benefit from medicines such as prochlorperazine and some antihistamine drugs. 

Vestibular rehabilitation training (VRT) can also help. It’s a series of exercises designed for people with dizziness and balance problems.

Vertigo can affect your quality of life. If you think you have one, it’s important to see a specialist to determine what causes it and to find out the best treatment option for you. 

Greater Knoxville ENT has specialists who can help you. To request an appointment, you can call us at (865) 244-4396.







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