So, what’s vertigo?
Vertigo describes an illusion of movement that you or your environment is spinning.
It differs from dizziness, which occurs without relation to motion or position, or motion sickness, which is a feeling of lack of equilibrium. This should not be confused with fainting either or lightheadedness symptoms.
When you feel as if your surrounding are moving, it is called objective vertigo but the perception that you are moving is called subjective vertigo.
First, we will start by clearing a misconception.
What is Dizziness?
Dizziness is used describe the feeling of being lightheaded, weak, unsteady and faint. When you are “dizzy” you feel that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving. This sensation of things moving and spinning is called Vertigo.
Symptoms of Dizziness
As mentioned above when you are experiencing dizziness you will be feeling on the following:
When should you see a doctor?
Rarely dizziness hits people and passes off. But there are times where dizziness is a cause of concern and requires contacting your doctor. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing any recurrent, unexplained or severe case of dizziness.
You should seek emergency medical aid if you are experiencing severe dizziness or vertigo accompanied by any of the following:
Preparing for your doctor’s appointment
There are excellent chances that your General Practitioner will be able to diagnose and treat the cause of your dizziness. However, in some cases, a visit to an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) specialist or a neurologist might be required.
The doctor will probably ask you the following questions in order to proceed with identification and treatment:
Testing and diagnosis
Usually, diagnosis is simple and straightforward. To identify what is the cause of your symptoms you doctor may ask you to tip your head back or lie down on a particular side in the exam room.
The additional tests, if required are:
- Eye movement testing
Your doctor will observe the path of eyes when they are following a moving object.
You may be also me made to take a “caloric test”. In this, the movement of the eye is tested when cold and warm water is placed in your ear canal at different times.
- Posturography testing
This is a check of your balance system in order to identities which parts are working and which aren’t.
You will be asked to stand on your bare feet on a platform and asked to keep your balance under various conditions.
- Rotary-Chair testing
This test is also designed to check your vestibular and brainstem system, components which contribute to maintaining balance.
In this test, you are placed in a computer-controlled chair that moves quite slowly in a full circular motion. At faster speed option, it moves back and forth in a very minimal arc.
This is required in very few cases. MRI is used to rule out the possibility of “acoustic neuroma”, a non-cancerous brain tumor or any other abnormality causing vertigo.
Symptoms and Vertigo Treatment
Treatment is decided after establishing the cause of your vertigo and the symptoms that have manifested.
For BPPV there is a simple procedure which involves maneuvering the position of your head. This is called “canalith repositioning”. This is effective after one or two treatments.
Inner ear conditions
Mostly balance retraining exercises are used. You will learn them from a physical therapist and continue them at home.
The doctor may also prescribe you with “meclizine” and “diazepam”, or over-the-counter “dimenhydrinate” in order to provide relief from nausea and dizziness.
- Meniere’s disease
In its treatment, the aim is to reduce the body’s retention of fluids. This is done through Diuretic use and diet changes like low-salt (salt leads to water retention). Sometimes injections through the ear drum or surgery may also be recommended.
To deal with Vertigo that arises due to Vestibular Migraine you doctor will first help you with identifying the triggers for it. Changes in diet, stress managing, sleep and exercise will be recommended to help deal with the triggers.
Also, medicines might be prescribed to help deal with nausea and vomiting. There are also exercises to help your body deal better with motion, known as vestibular rehabilitation.
- Anxiety Disorders
When your dizziness results from anxiety disorders the usual vertigo treatment recommended is medications and psychotherapy, alone or in combination.