Vertigo may be described as a sensation of spinning, whirling or moving that occurs when a person’s balance is disturbed – it is a perception that you or your surroundings are moving. It is a symptom and not disease. Vertigo is often associated with dizziness, faintness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness and disorientation. If you feel that as though you are moving, it is referred to as subjective vertigo while if your surroundings are moving, it is referred to as objective vertigo. Episodes of vertigo are usually not harmless, but if symptoms persist, consult your health practitioner immediately.
Symptoms may be constant or episodic and occur from minutes to hours and sometimes persisting for weeks or months.
Common symptoms and signs include:
Sensation of motion or disorientation
Involuntary eye movements
In addition, symptoms such as a ringing sensation in the ears, hearing loss, weakness, difficulty walking and speaking, visual disturbances or decreased level of consciousness.
What Causes Vertigo?
Vertigo may be caused by the following conditions and these include:
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV occurs as a result of damage caused to the inner ear. It is the most common cause of vertigo and may be accompanied by hearing loss, facial muscle weakness or decreased cognitive function
Meniere’s disease which is characterized by ringing in the ears, episodes of vertigo and hearing loss
Cerebellar hemorrhages which is bleeding to the back of the brain and may be accompanied by vertigo, difficulty walking, headaches and vision impairment
Acoustic neuroma which is a type of a tumor that causes vertigo and symptoms of hearing loss and one-sided ringing in the ear
Inflammation or infection of the ear (ear infection)
Head and neck injury or trauma
The diagnosis of vertigo is based on the symptoms, a physical examination and a review of the medical history. Certain tests such as blood tests, CT scan, or electrocardiogram (ECG) may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis of vertigo.
Help for Vertigo
Treatment of vertigo depends on the cause and severity of attacks. A very common form of treatment is known as vestibular rehabilitation exercises which involve lying down on a table on one side until the vertigo subsides and then switching to the other side until vertigo disappears completely. Medications such as Benadryl or Valium may either be taken orally, with a skin patch or given through an IV. If vertigo is caused as a result of a bacterial infection of the middle ear, antibiotics may be administered. More severe episodes of vertigo may also require surgery.
Natural remedies can also provide symptomatic relief of dizziness and nausea associated with vertigo and improves inner ear balance. Herbal remedies containing homeopathic ingredients may be taken at the first sign of symptoms and are safe to use for people of all ages.
Homeopathic ingredients such as Cocculus indicus, Lobelia inflata and Gelsemium have proven to highly effective in relieving the symptoms of dizziness, weakness, fainting, fatigue, headaches and emotional upsets. In addition, Bryonia alba may be beneficial for headaches, and for individuals who perspire where the slightest movement may be disturbing.
Tips to prevent vertigoThere are some helpful strategies that can be taken to prevent and cope with the symptoms of vertigo and these include:
Limit salt from your diet as this may help to minimize the amount of build up in the ear
Exercise regularly to stay active and avoid stress
Stop smoking as it constricts the blood flow to the inner ear
Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol
Make your home safe to prevent unnecessary falls – ensure that your home is free of clutter, well lit, install grab bars and use non-skid mats in the bathroom
Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery if you have frequent attacks of vertigo
Manage and control stress and anxiety by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga or meditation
Practice eye exercises by looking from near to far, up and down or side to side
Prevent injuries from falls by using a cane or walking frame to control your balance
Wear shoes with low heels, non-slip soles and always see that they are tied.