Causes of Vertigo
The causes of vertigo, or dizziness, are many. We'll cover the most common 90% which all come from disorders of the inner ear - these are Benign Positional Vertigo, and Vestibular Neuronitis or Labarynthitis, and Meniere's Disease.
To understand what causes dizziness and vertigo we have to look at how we balance. Inside your bony inner ear are two odd looking fluid filled structures connected together. One looks like a snail shell and is called the cochlea, and the other looks like a pretzel and is known as the semicircular canals. The shell is used to hear and the pretzel to balance.
When your head moves the liquid in the pretzel moves too just like a carpenters level. This liquid wafts little hairs inside the canals which tells your brain motion is going on. Comparison of the signals from the pretzels then makes your sensation of moving. If the signals don't add up then you feel like the room is spinning, sick in your stomach, and off balance.
- Benign positional vertigo is caused by developing small stones in the circular canals which roll around triggering movement hair cells when there's no movement. As the cochlea is involved, hearing stays fine.
- Vestibular Neuritis and Labarynthitis are typically caused by viral infections which cause temporary overinflation of fluid within the inner ear structures. As both the cochlea and circular canals are affected by this pressure, vertigo is accompanied by decreased hearing.
- Menieres Disease is caused by a disorder of too much fluid production pressure in the inner ear. It tends to cause ringing tinnitus with vertigo.
Symptoms of Vertigo
- Seeing and feeling as if the room around you is spinning when it's not. A lot like how you felt after spinning yourself around as a child.
- Neasea, feeling upset in your stomach like you'd like to vomit.
- Unsteadiness as you walk like after getting off a merry-go-round.
- Unable to focus your eyes.
- Double vision.
How to Treat Vertigo
The mainstay of vertigo treatment is to sedate the semicircular canals (pretzel) and quiet their signals to your brain. The underlying problem will correct itself given enough time, on its own, in most cases. The most popular tablets given to do this are antihistamines but antipsychotic medications and decongestants are sometimes used to treat vertigo too. In benign positional vertigo a series inner ear exercises called Epley maneuvers are designed to dislodge debris from affected parts of the ear.
Very sweet and very salty food changes the 'sweetness' and 'saltiness' of the fluid in your inner ear. So these foods, and coffee and alcohol are not recommended in the dizzy prone.
Always remember that dizziness can also be caused by medications. So when going to your doctor carry any medicine you're taking at the moment with you so they can pinpoint if that might be the source of your vertigo.
Doctor Secrets! "Take extra safety precautions! Get up from bed or sitting slowly. Make sure your home is well lit. Don't take chances driving or climbing, or doing ladders or stairs without assistance."