Vertigo

Vertigo Summary
Vertigo is a feeling of spinning movement, and at times accompanied by nausea and vomiting occur. Vertigo is most often associated with an inner ear problem. The treatment for vertigo can be lifestyle changes and medication if necessary.
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Vertigo facts

  • Vertigo describes the sensation of the patient or the room spinning. It may be associated with intense nausea and vomiting.
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is the most common reason to develop vertigo but it is often uncertain what might cause BPPV.
  • Diagnosis of vertigo is usually made after the health care practitioner performs a history and physical examination. It is important to consider a central problem with the brain as a potential cause.
  • BPPV and labyrinthitis are treated with Epley maneuvers to clear debris that causes inflammation from the semicircular canals of the inner ear.
  • People with vertigo or that have multiple episodes of vertigo should not drive or do other activities that would endanger themselves or others.

Vertigo introduction

Balance is defined as a state of equilibrium. It takes significant amount of work for this to occur in the body. The brain uses inputs from many sources to understand where the body is located in relationship to the world and to allow it to function. Sensory information from the eyes, ears, and position receptors in the rest of the body help keep the body upright and allow it to move in a coordinated fashion.

Information comes to cerebellar lobes located in the base of the brain from the vestibular system in the inner ear, vision from the eyes, and proprioception (position) receptors located throughout the body that send signals through the spinal cord. The cerebellum uses that information to maintain posture, coordinate body motions like walking and also coordinate fine motor skills like using a pen to write.

Vertigo, a feeling of spinning movement and sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting, occurs when any part of the system breaks down. However, people tend not to use that word to describe their symptoms but instead use the word dizziness or lightheadedness. It is up to the health care practitioner to understand the person's symptoms and define vertigo as the cause of their situation.

Dizziness is a difficult word to understand and needs to be divided into two categories, either lightheadedness or vertigo. Lightheadedness is the feeling that a person might faint while vertigo is most often described as a spinning sensation with loss of balance. The direction of care is markedly different since lightheadedness may suggest to the health care practitioner to investigate decreased oxygen or nutrient supply to the brain due a variety of causes including heart rhythm disturbances ordehydration, while vertigo sends the health care practitioner looking for a neurologic or inner ear cause.

The most important initial step in helping a person with vertigo is to take a history and understand that the person is complaining of spinning symptoms that may be associated with nausea and vomiting and loss of balance among other symptoms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/6/2014

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Vertigo Treatment

The key to treatment of vertigo is to diagnose the underlying cause(s). Many people that have relatively benign causes of vertigo require no treatment while others...

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