What is vertigo? Vertigo or balance disorder is a disturbance that causes an individual to feel unsteady, giddy, woozy, or have a sensation of movement, spinning, or floating, and loss of balance. Causes of dizziness related to the ear are often characterized by vertigo (spinning) and nausea.


What is Vertigo

Vertigo is a serious disease as it increases the risk factor for some of the serious disorders such as strokes and tumors. There are different types of vertigo such as peripheral vertigo , objective vertigo and central vertigo, hence, the treatment of the vertigo is a necessity as it may lead to severe imbalance problems.

The human balance system works with our visual and skeletal systems to maintain orientation or balance. Visual signals are sent to the human brain about the body’s position in relation to its surroundings. These signals are processed by the brain, and compared to information from the vestibular, visual and the skeletal systems.


What are the common forms of vertigo?

BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) is the most common form of vertigo. A patient with BPPV experiences a sensation of motion described as spinning that lasts up to 1 minute, and accompanied by nausea or vomiting. A patient may also have nystagmus, a shaky eye movement you cannot control.

BPPV is rarely serious and can be easily treated with oral medications like Meclizine hydrochloride and some benzodiazepines to resolve vertigo attacks and decrease injuries from falls.

Several physical maneuvers such as vestibular rehabilitation exercises with Epley maneuvers until the vertigo no longer occur. Particle repositioning maneuvers can also be used and repeated until the abnormal eye movements are not visible anymore.

Age, gender, trauma to your head or neck, and medical condition such as diabetes, migraine headache, high blood pressure, Meniere’s disease may increase your risk of BPPV.

Symptoms of BPPV include poor and unsteady balance when you walk, changes in your vision, and nausea.

So, BPPV could be the answer for “What is Vertigo?” by itself as it’s the most common form of vertigo condition.

Meniere’s disease is due to the excessive accumulation of endolymphatic fluid in one side of the inner ear.

Apart from oral medications such as meclizine (Antivert) or diazepam (Valium) to suppress the inner ear, or brain stem, prochlorperazine is prescribed to help control nausea during vertigo attacks.

Surgical procedures can relieve the fluid pressure. To reduce fluid retention, doctors may prescribe a combination of triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide (Dyazide, Maxzide).

Your doctor may inject certain aminoglycoside antibiotics into the ear canal without damaging your hearing.

Symptoms and duration vary from person to person. Since there is no single test to diagnose Meniere’s disease, your doctor may ask questions about:

    • Severe symptoms
    • How often they occur
    • What medications you are taking
    • Past ear problems
    • History of allergies or infectious diseases
    • Family history of inner ear problems


Patients with Meniere’s disease may require diuretic’s medication to increase urine output.

If a hole in the inner ear may require referral to an ENT specialist for surgery to prevent recurrent infection.

What are the tests for vertigo?

Routine laboratory may include:

  • CBC (complete blood count)
  • Thyroid function tests ECG (electrocardiogram) with rhythm strip
  • MPPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory)
  • VEMP (vestibular evoked myogenic potentials) testing
  • An audiogram to assess the extent of hearing loss

It may also include specialized tests such as:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging/magnetic resonance angiography (MRI/MRA) scan
  • EEG (electroencephalogram)
  • Battery of psychological tests
  • Tilttable (a monitor to determine if a person can keep a stable blood pressure when tilted from a horizontal to vertical position)
  • Holster monitor to evaluate the cardiac rhythm

To rule out possible diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and tumor, your doctor may order:

  • Posturography
  • CT (computerized tomography) scan
  • Auditory Brainstem Response Audiometry

To help your doctor assess ongoing balance problems he may request:

  • Electronystagmography (ENG)
  • Posturography
  • Rotary-chair testing
  • VEMP (vestibular evoked myogenic potentials)

When should you seek immediate help?

Seek immediate help if you have

  • Ringing in your ears
  • Have a severe headache that doesn’t go away
  • Fall and hurt yourself
  • Feel confused, weak, and have changes in your vision
  • Have more than one-minute BPPV symptoms

There are many treatment options available for vertigo sufferers. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for your condition.

What is vertigo (in-depth)

In patients with vertigo, inflammation of the fluid or irritation of the crystals on the nerve membrane that lines the walls of the semicircular canals may cause the spinning sensation even without much head movement.

Often, only one canal is involved and the person may be symptom free if they don’t move.

Normally, when the head moves, fluid in the semicircular canals shifts and that information is relayed to the brain. When the head stops moving, the fluid stops as well. There may be a slight delay and is the basis for the vertigo experienced after people participate in many children’s games and carnival rides.

When a person goes on a merry-go-round or spins quickly around in circles, the fluid in the canals develops momentum and even though the head stops spinning, the fluid may continue to move. This causes vertigo or a spinning sensation and may cause the person to fall or stumble in a crooked line. It also may be associated with vomiting.The inner ear has two parts, the semicircular canals and the vestibule, that helps the body know where it is in relationship to gravity.

There are three semicircular canals that are aligned at right angles to each other and act as the gyroscope for the body.

The canals are filled with fluid and are lined with a nerve filled, crystal encrusted membrane that transmits information to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that deals with balance and coordination.

So, to answer the question “what is vertigo?” have considered more specific vestibular details.

The cerebellum adds information from sight and from nerve endings in muscles that deal with proprioception, the perception of movement, to help the brain know where it is in relationship to gravity and the world.