Vertigo is a sensation that makes you feel like your surroundings are spinning. For some, the feeling is mild and barely noticeable. For others, it is severe and can make it difficult for them to do daily activities. Vertigo attacks are usually sudden and can last for a couple of seconds to a few minutes.
Vertigo isn’t a disease, but a symptom of many health conditions including migraines, Meniere’s disease, and vestibular dysfunction. The condition affects 35% of adults above 40 years old. Vertigo may also occur when there is an issue with the brain’s sensory nerve pathway.
Types of Vertigo
There are two main types of vertigo:
- Central Vertigo: This is caused by brain disease or an injury to the brain. It often comes suddenly, without any sign or warning, and can last for a long time. Central vertigo is intense and can make it difficult for patients to stand or walk.
- Peripheral Vertigo: Peripheral vertigo is very common. It is estimated that 64 of every 100,000 people in the US suffer from this condition. Most people experience episodes of peripheral vertigo when they have vestibular neuronitis, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), and Meniere’s disease.
Symptoms of Vertigo
As mentioned above, vertigo is a symptom of many health conditions. Below are a few other symptoms you may experience when you have central or peripheral vertigo:
- Ringing ears
- Motion sickness
- Difficulty walking and keeping balance
- Difficulty swallowing
- Double vision
- Increased sweating
- Hearing loss in one ear
- Weak limbs
Diagnosis of Vertigo
Diagnosing vertigo is by no means easy because people experiencing this condition find it difficult to describe.
To determine if a patient has vertigo, doctors will first ask about the specific issues the patient is facing like lightheadedness, a spinning sensation, and double vision. To narrow down the root cause of the problem, your doctor will ask about your medical history, carry out a couple of tests, and then do a physical exam.
A physical examination is carried out to analyze your eye movements, as to ascertain the side of your body that is affected the most. Imaging tests, like MRIs and CT scans, can also be used to help experts see what’s happening inside your body.
How to Treat Vertigo
While vertigo may improve on its own without any treatment, it is recommended that you consult a doctor if you have repeated episodes of it. Below are a couple of ways vertigo can be treated:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics will be prescribed if the root cause of your vertigo is linked to a bacterial infection.
- Meclizine: These are medications that are used to address allergies. They are effective against vertigo caused by Meniere’s disease.
- Surgery: Surgery will only be recommended if other treatments aren’t working or if the root cause of the vertigo is linked to acoustic neuroma or BPPV.
- Exercise: Some exercises can help ease vertigo. These exercises aren’t intense and usually involve holding a particular position. Don’t perform any exercise that aggravates vertigo, especially if the case is severe. It is best you seek the assistance of a physiotherapist.
How to Manage Vertigo
Vertigo can be addressed without medication or surgery. Below are a few natural remedies that can help address it:
Herbal Remedies: Herbs like ginger root, cayenne, ginkgo Biloba, Gongjin-dan, and turmeric can help reduce the symptoms associated with vertigo.
Acupuncture: According to this study, acupuncture can help reduce the symptoms of vertigo.
Lifestyle Changes: Here are some easy lifestyle changes that can help you live with the condition:
- Squatting to pick things up instead of bending
- Sleeping with your head elevated (using two or more pillows)
- When the spinning is severe, lying down in a dark and quiet area
- Sitting down when you feel dizzy
- Using a cane if it is difficult for you to balance yourself while walking
- Being careful when engaging in activities that can trigger the symptoms of vertigo (standing up and turning your head for instance)
- How long does vertigo last? Vertigo can last from a few seconds to a couple of hours. The root cause of it usually determines how long it will last.
- When should I consult a doctor? You should seek the help of a health care practitioner if you experience chest pain, severe dizziness, irregular heartbeat, and seizures.
- What is the best exercise for vertigo? There are a lot of exercises that can help address vertigo. One of the most effective is walking, as it can improve balance.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!