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What Is Vertigo

What Is Vertigo

What is vertigo? What are the symptoms and causes of vertigo? What is positional vertigo? Your doubts and questions about vertigo are answered here.
Azmin Taraporewala
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Vertigo refers to an illusion of movement, a sensation that everything around him is spinning. It is, in the actual, an erroneous conclusion made by an individual about movement. The most common description given by an individual is that he feels the room is whirling constantly, the momentum being rapid and inconceivable. Your question regarding vertigo, is only partially answered in the above given definition; however, there is a lot more you should know.
Vertigo is a symptom or a sign and not a disorder in itself. It is thus, a symptom of balance disorder. Vertigo, if recurrent in nature can spell danger. Severe headaches, vision impairment and hearing trouble along with one's kinesthetic abilities suffering a beating, signal the onset of a serious condition. Before the condition escalates, it is advisable that the sufferer consults a medical practitioner to cease these symptoms and discourage an advancement in the same.
Is Vertigo a Disease or Symptom?
It is a misconception that vertigo is a disease. When a question is put forth for explaining the concept of vertigo, disease as a term does not feature as a potential description. It is a symptom and not a disease. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the brain and the spinal cord, together called the central nervous system. It is a type of autoimmune disease where the cells of the brain and spinal cord are affected. Thus, vertigo, apart from being a symptom of balance disorder, could also be a symptom and sign that points to multiple sclerosis.
Signs and Symptoms
In order to understand the symptoms, it is very important to be clear about the concept of vertigo. Hope the above section has given you a solid idea about the concept. The most prominent symptom is the sensation of the surroundings spinning, when in the actual there is no movement. One should be very careful so as to avert head injuries as the head spin may be extremely severe and one may be unable to keep balance. Other symptoms are:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Problems walking
  • Unable to keep balance
  • Erroneous vision
  • Inability to concentrate
Causes
This section defines and gives a clear picture of the causes, in the process also explaining as to what is positional vertigo.
  • Ear infection, blockage or fungus in the ear leads to inflammation of the inner ear. The inner ear has two major components called the labyrinth and cochlea. The labyrinth is a part of the inner ear that is responsible for maintaining balance and regulating itself as the external surroundings change. Difficulty in walking, standing and even speaking are signs of the inner ear being damaged. If the ear is temporarily invaded by bacteria, the inner ear can improve and get back to normalcy with a dedicated medication regime. The bacteria is destroyed when; appropriate medication, making the practitioner an important intermediary, is administered.
  • It can occur due to a head injury as well. If the brain injury has been severe, hearing impairment can occur and may result in hearing loss. You should inform your medical practitioner immediately in cases as serious as these.
  • Another cause is severe migraine. Migraine is characterized be periodic headaches; a feeling of a strong source of light being flashed at you, that is subsequently making your vision faulty and blurred. Prevalence of vertigo and sensation of dizziness is found in many migraine patients.
  • It is always advised that individuals who experience frequent episodes of dizziness, must keep themselves well hydrated. When dehydration occurs, an individual fails to provide his system with the required liquid content, blood pressure drops and there is a sense of dizziness or feeling lightheaded, that may further become the cause of the condition.
  • Tinnitus, another cause, is a ringing sound that you feel in the ear, which in the actual, does not exist.
  • Vertigo may also be caused due to a medical condition called acoustic neuroma, that occurs due to a non cancerous tumor on the acoustic nerve of the inner ear. This nerve is involved in providing us with a sense of balance.
  • Infection in the inner ear that occurs repeatedly may cause vertigo. Chronic otitis media in some patients is another cause.
  • Meniere's disease can be defined as the impairment of the semi-circular canals resulting in the loss of hearing ability, recurrent episodes of vertigo and defective eye movement thereby making the patient feel more dizzy, further leading to nausea and bouts of vomiting. Mineare's disease is characterized by hearing impairment progressing gradually and ultimately resulting in complete hearing loss.
  • Positional vertigo, also called the Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), is caused due to the semicircular canal in the labyrinth, a major part of the inner ear, consisting of tiny hair like formations, that keeps a tab on the movement of the head. Another component, referred to as the otolith organ, monitors the head movement. It consists of crystals that make the head sensitive to movement.
These crystals have their place to maintain but sometimes, these crystals move away from their place and get into the semicircular canal. This unusual behavior of the crystals makes the individual susceptible to the condition. However, there are certain exercises that could be employed to fight vertigo.
Difference between Vertigo and Dizziness
Patients carry a misnomer of sorts as they are confused with the two conditions. In actuality, vertigo and dizziness are two different conditions, rather vertigo is an extended cousin of dizziness. This happens due to the fact that some symptoms overlap. Dizziness may be described as feeling light-headed and a sensation that the world is spinning. With vertigo, one endures the same condition, however the difference lies in the degree or intensity.
It is a much more severe form of dizziness. One form of vertigo is referred to as Positional vertigo. It is a condition that one may endure when one stands up suddenly or moves his head with a jerk. A classic example of experiencing it is when you are sitting on the floor and rise with a start. You may have experienced that you suddenly feel light-headed and lose body balance.
"You feel like shutting your eyes tight enough so that the sensation vanishes." This is a common explanatory quote of patients who suffer from vertigo. Some patients have also reported to having a sudden change in vision; some are of the view that along with the whirlpool-like effect, they also experience impaired vision, where they witness the formation of 'dark circular rings' before their eyes.
"A sudden jerky movement when you get off the rug does trigger a spinning effect." This is one complaint that is registered by many patients when they rise out of bed. A majority confuse the occurrence of this incident as a sign of dizziness. However, the fact is that it is not dizziness, but a clear symptom of vertigo.
"A whirlwind-like sensation occurs when I look down from a height." This is a complaint too. However, in this particular instance, it is not vertigo or dizziness to be held as responsible agents for the trouble. This symptom is a result of acrophobia. The basic difference between vertigo and acrophobia is that of peculiarity of the position. Acrophobia exclusively occurs when you have alighted a height. It is when you start looking down that you feel that your head is spinning and you are at a risk of losing your balance. The symptoms may occur anytime, predominantly when you expose your body to sudden, jerky movements which may last for a few minutes or may also continue to prove its intensity through hours, days and in rare cases, even months or years.
Hope this article has armed you with information that you have been looking for. Understanding what is vertigo accompanied with its symptoms is the first step to fighting and ceasing the symptom.