Vertigo 101: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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Vertigo
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What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a symptom, rather than an illness itself. It’s the feeling that you, or the setting around you, is moving or spinning. This feeling may be hardly noticeable, or it may be so severe that you find it hard to keep your balance and do everyday tasks. Attacks of vertigo can advance suddenly and last for a few seconds, or they may last much longer. If you have severe vertigo, your symptoms may be constant and last for several days, making normal life very tough.

Other symptoms associated with vertigo:

  • loss of balance – which can make it tough to stand or walk
  • feeling sick or being sick
  • dizziness 
  • Seeking medical assistance

Causes of Vertigo

It is generally caused by a problem with the way balance works in the inner ear, although it can also be triggered by problems in certain parts of the brain.

  • benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – where some head movements cause vertigo
  • migraines – severe headaches
  • labyrinthitis – inner ear infection
  • vestibular neuronitis – swelling of the vestibular nerve, which runs into the inner ear and sends messages to the brain that help to regulate the balance

Depending on the condition triggering it, you may experience additional symptoms, such as high temperature, ringing in your ears (tinnitus) and even hearing loss.

Treatment of Vertigo

Most cases of this improve over time, without treatment. Yet, some people have repeated episodes for many months, or even years, such as those with Ménière’s disease. There are specific treatments for some reasons of it. A series of simple head movements are employed to treat BPPV. Medicines, such as prochlorperazine and antihistamines, can help in the early stages or most cases of vertigo. Many people with it can also benefit from vestibular rehabilitation training (VRT), which is a series of exercises for people with dizziness and balance problems.  

Dealing With Vertigo

There are several ways to deal with vertigo and a few are mentioned below:

Stress management

Some conditions that cause vertigo can be caused by stress. Developing coping strategies to steer through stressful situations could decrease your episodes of vertigo. Practicing meditation and deep-breathing techniques are also a good place to start.

Yoga and tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are known to help reduce stress while increasing flexibility and balance. Physical therapy performed in an outpatient setting trains your brain to compensate for the cause of your vertigo episodes, and exercise you do at home can also mimic this effect. Start out with simple yoga postures, but always be cautious about any pose that involves sudden bending forward, as that could make your symptoms temporarily feel stronger.

Adequate amount of sleep

Feelings of it can also be caused by sleep deprivation. If you’re feeling this for the first time, it might be a result of stress or lack of sleep. If you can stop what you’re doing and take a short nap, you may find that your feelings of vertigo have been resolved.

Hydration

Sometimes it can be caused by dehydration. Reducing your sodium intake might help in this case. But the best way to stay hydrated is to drink enough amounts of water. Monitor your water intake and take extra care during humid conditions and sweaty situations that might make you lose extra fluids. Plan to drink extra water during times you tend to become more dehydrated. You might find that simply being aware of how much water you’re drinking can help decrease vertigo episodes.

Vertigo

Vitamin D

If you suspect your vertigo is connected to something you are not getting enough in your diet, you could be right. Lack of vitamin D in your body can worsen symptoms for people that have BPPV, which is the most common cause. A glass of milk or orange juice, canned tuna, and even egg yolks will provide you with a vitamin D boost.

Avoiding alcohol

Apart from the dizziness, you feel while drinking, alcohol can essentially change the composition of the fluid in your inner ear. Alcohol also is responsible for dehydration. These things can affect your balance when you are rather sober. Cutting back on alcohol, or even stopping completely, might help with your symptoms.

It is not a diagnosis, but it’s instead a symptom of an underlying condition if it keeps happening. Treating it at home might help you as a short-term solution. But if you continue to experience frequent vertigo episodes, it’s important that you try to find out the cause. Your doctor might be able to diagnose you, or may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist or neurologist for further evaluation.