Vertigo is described as a sense of sudden spinning or feeling off-balance. It is often caused by a problem with the inner ear, though that’s not always the case. We all remember the feeling of spinning too fast as children and experiencing the “dizzies.” That feeling is vertigo and can be classified as internal or external. Internal vertigo is vertigo caused by health issues associated with the brain, while external vertigo is associated with the inner ear. Vertigo can seriously impact your quality of life, which is why we offer a variety of solutions for this condition at Independence Ear, Nose, & Throat.
What does vertigo feel like?
People who experience vertigo often describe it as feeling like the world is spinning or like you are spinning. But unlike the “dizzies” of our childhood, vertigo can last hours or days.
Common symptoms of vertigo include:
- Feeling unbalanced
- The feeling of being pulled in one direction
Other symptoms that often accompany vertigo include:
- Feeling nauseated
- Nystagmus (abnormal or jerking eye movement)
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Hearing loss
As mentioned, vertigo can be classified as internal or external. Examples of external medical conditions that trigger vertigo include:
- Meniere’s disease: A disorder of the inner ear created by fluid buildup in the inner ear, causing an unwanted pressure change in the ear. Often times, diuretic pills can help alleviate the vertigo symptoms associated with Meniere’s disease.
- Inner ear infections: The inflammation within the inner ear can cause unwanted pressure and discomfort and send unwanted signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity, causing vertigo. If ear infections do not clear up on their own, antibiotics like amoxicillin are needed.
- Vestibular neuritis: Also known as labyrinthitis, this is an inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which helps control balance. Labyrinthitis is typically related to ear infections and clears up with treatment.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): A type of vertigo that occurs when tiny calcium particles break off inside the canals of the inner ear. As these clumps move around, the inner ear sends signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity. Treatment for BPPV includes a head and neck exercise that helps move the particles back in place.
Internal causes of vertigo include:
- Concussions or traumatic brain injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Tumors on the brain or spinal cord
Other treatment options
Sometimes, surgery is required, if vertigo is caused by a more serious underlying health condition, such as a tumor or major injury to the brain or neck. Certain medications, such as antihistamines, migraine medication, acupuncture or chiropractic care, can also help alleviate symptoms.
If you suffer from common spells of vertigo, contact Independence Ear, Nose, & Throat today. Our clinicians can help determine if inner ear problems are the cause of your vertigo.