Dizziness is one of the leading health complaints in the United States and affects an estimated nine million people annually. Dizziness is a blanket term used to describe any feeling of instability. Vertigo is a form of dizziness characterized by the feeling that you or your environment is moving or spinning, despite the lack of any actual movement.
What are the Symptoms Associated with Dizziness and Vertigo
Patients who experience dizziness report a variety of symptoms depending on the exact nature of their balance disorder. These include:
- Blurred Vision
Technically speaking, vertigo is a symptom itself rather than a disease. It is characterized by the sensation that you or the environment is moving or spinning. This may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, hearing loss, tinnitus, difficulty focusing or moving the eyes, double vision and a feeling of fullness in the ear.
What are the Causes of Dizziness/Vertigo?
Dizziness occurs when your brain receives false signals from the balance system (comprised of the inner ear, eyes and sensory nerves). It senses movement and overcompensates, leading to a spinning sensation, weakness and faintness.
Causes of dizziness include low blood pressure, anemia dehydration, heat-related disorders, endocrine system disorders (e.g., diabetes, thyroid disease), heart conditions, high blood pressure, viral and bacterial infections, head trauma, hyperventilation, neurological disorders and certain medications.
Several balance disorders are commonly associated with dizziness and/or vertigo.
- Benign Paroxyysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) involves brief but intense periods of vertigo that are triggered by specific changes in head position. It occurs when tiny crystals in the otolith organs become dislodged and migrate to the semicircular canals.
- Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition that causes vertigo, tinnitus, fullness in the ear and fluctuating hearing loss that may eventually become permanent. Meniere’s is usually confined to one ear, and though its cause is unknown, it may be the result of abnormal fluid buildup in the inner ear.
- Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear usually caused by an infection. Its symptoms include vertigo, temporary hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Central vertigo occurs when there is a problem in the brain, usually affecting the brainstem or the cerebellum. These parts of the brain are responsible for interactions between the visual and balance systems; any disturbance can lead to vertigo. The most common cause of central vertigo is a migraine headache. Other less common conditions that can trigger central vertigo include stroke, tumors, acoustic neuroma, multiple sclerosis, alcohol and certain drugs.
How is Dizziness/Vertigo Treated?
Treatment varies depending on the type and severity of vertigo. Some forms disappear without treatment. The most common type, BPPV, responds well to head maneuvers while other types are successfully treated with medication. When the condition persists, physical therapy can help.
Call Premier Medical Group for more information or to schedule an appointment.