Vertigo: Frequently asked questions (2022)

Vertigo is a subjective sensation. Nobody other than the patient can experience what that person is experiencing. Many people with this disorder are inadequately evaluated.

(Video) Understanding the Causes of Vertigo

Since most forms of vertigo are readily treated, we recommend anyone with this condition to seek further attention despite the fact that prior visits to one's physician may not have resulted in alleviation of this condition.

What is vertigo?

The precise definition of vertigo is an illusion of motion. But it also refers not just to illusions of motions, but chronic or intermittent sensation of loss of balance.

What are common causes of vertigo?

There are a large number of causes of vertigo, but the three most common causes are:

  • Cold viruses
  • Head trauma
  • Meniere's disease

How are causes of vertigo related?

These are all conditions that affect the inner ear. The inner ear is responsible for our sense of balance and also our sense of position in space. When the inner ear dysfunctions, we lose our sense of balance and frequently suffer symptoms such as vertigo, nausea, vomiting, and loss of balance.

Can vertigo be treated?

Most causes of vertigo are readily treatable with physical therapy, medication, surgery, and time. By time, I mean, waiting because many causes of vertigo resolve spontaneously. Because of the many causes of vertigo, the critical issue in choosing a physician is their experience with vertigo.

(Video) Vertigo Frequently asked questions Fundamentals Explained

Who should I see for vertigo treatment?

There are two types of physicians whose specialties include dizziness:

  • Neurologists, who would deal in treating chronic forms of vertigo.
  • Otolaryngologists, who are neurologists that specialize in ear disease.

Since many types of vertigo go away without treatment, initial evaluation by a general practitioner or family doctor is appropriate early on, reserving specialty care for chronic cases.

At what age is vertigo most common?

It is extremely rare, but not impossible, for young children to have vertigo. It becomes more common in the early 20s and affects all ages commonly after that. Its consequences however become more substantial as you get older because loss of balance in the elderly commonly leads to major fractures.

Can someone get vertigo from playing a video game that simulates movement?

Three-dimensional video games can cause a brief sensation of vertigo, but it would not persist.

Can stress cause vertigo?

Mental stress can make many forms of vertigo worse, but will not, by itself, produce vertigo.

(Video) Carlson ENT - Vertigo Frequently Asked Questions

What is positional vertigo?

Positional vertigo refers to a variety of conditions where a change in the position of your head produces a sense of vertigo.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

The most common form is a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV for short. In BPPV when one lies down with the affected ear toward the floor, one gets a brief but very intense feeling of the world spinning around.

Is ataxia related to vertigo?

Ataxia refers to clumsiness. Disease of the inner ear does not produce ataxia per se but can be confused with ataxia. Ataxia is produced by disease of the cerebellum, a part of the brain that works with the inner ears to help maintain balance and also fine motor control.

Can the symptoms of vertigo be confused with the symptoms of other diseases or conditions?

Yes, this is a common occurrence. Usually they are mistaken because of use of the word dizziness. Dizziness can refer to lightheadedness, which is not vertigo and is commonly produced by vascular problems. Dizziness also can mean vertigo, and there are very few causes of vertigo that do not come from the inner ear. Occasionally, rare types of strokes can cause vertigo, but these are usually associated with other neurological symptoms as well.

Are there any surgical procedures to correct vertigo?

There are surgical procedures to correct certain types of vertigo. If the vertigo is caused by a disease such as Meniere's disease, where the function of the involved ear changes over time, and these changes do not respond to medical therapy, then surgical intervention may eliminate the vertigo.

(Video) FAQ: Can My Vertigo Be Effectively Treated with Medication? with Dr. Kimberley Bell

How does physical therapy help vertigo?

In forms of vertigo, where the inner ear has suffered damage and the function of that ear is fixed, not changing over time, physical therapy can be quite helpful. When the inner ear is damaged, people commonly experience severe spinning for several days. If after several weeks the person still has a loss of balance, then physical therapy can help restore this balance. The reason physical therapy is helpful is that it helps train the brain to compensate for the loss of function in the ear. Just as you can make a muscle stronger by exercising it, you can make the balance system in the brain work better by exercising it.

What kind of physical therapy works to reduce vertigo?

It's called vestibular rehabilitation, and it is a relatively new form of physical therapy. Not all physical therapists are trained in the practice. Typically the exercises consist of movements that initially make the vertigo worse and balance tasks that are quite difficult. By doing these repetitively, the balance system in the brain learns to function better. Common exercises include moving the eyes from side to side, rotating the head from side to side, rotating the head from side to side while walking down a corridor, and things like this.

Can vertigo be associated with the onset of a menstrual period?

Some women with Meniere's disease have worse symptoms during their menstrual period.This is not an uncommon symptom because Meniere's disease is exacerbated by salt retention, and menstrual periods are associated with salt retention.

Is anxiety associated with vertigo?

Yes, vertigo causes extreme anxiety in most people. Anxiety, by itself, does not produce vertigo. However, in association with conditions that do produce vertigo, anxiety can make the vertigo much worse. People with certain anxiety disorders such as panic attacks can sometimes also experience vertigo.

What is particle repositioning maneuver?

Particle positioning maneuvers are a treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

(Video) FAQ: How Can I Manage an Episode of Vertigo? with Dr. Kimberley Bell, DPT

What causes BPPV?

BPPV is caused by loose otoconia within the inner ear. Otoconia are small calcium carbonate crystals that are part of the balance mechanism. In BPPV, these crystals break loose from their normal attachments and are free to tumble around the inner ear. When the involved ear is suddenly put in a downward position, the otoconia stimulate part of the inner ear abnormally. This results in a brief but intense whirling vertigo.

Eliminating symptoms of BPPV

Particle position maneuvers are a series of body turns that maneuver the otoconia into a different part of the inner ear where they will not cause symptoms. It is a very effective maneuver that takes just a few minutes to perform.

How does vertigo relate to labrynthitis?

Labyrinthitis or vestibular neuronitis is a presumed viral infection of the vestibular nerve. It causes sudden loss of function in the balance system of one ear. The brain normally compares the two ears. When you turn in any direction, the output of one ear to the brain goes up and the output of the other goes down. The brain looks at the difference between the two ears and says "I'm turning." When one ear develops labyrinthitis, its output suddenly drops. The brain sees a difference between the two ears, and that produces the feeling of spinning. This is commonly associated with nausea and vomiting and the worst part of it usually lasts for about three days. For several weeks afterward, it is common to feel a little bit off balance. Typically, after three to four weeks the balance returns to normal.


What brings vertigo on suddenly? ›

Vertigo is commonly caused by a problem with the way balance works in the inner ear, although it can also be caused by problems in certain parts of the brain. Causes of vertigo may include: benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – where certain head movements trigger vertigo. migraines – severe headaches.

Do and don'ts for vertigo? ›

DOs and DON'Ts in Managing Vertigo:

DON'T ignore vertigo, especially when you have other symptoms. DON'T use very high doses of aspirin. Aspirin may cause vertigo when used in high doses. DON'T forget to tell your health care provider about any drugs you take, including over-the-counter and herbal products.

What are the 3 types of vertigo? ›

There are two types of vertigo, peripheral and central vertigo.

What cures vertigo fast? ›

A technique called canalith repositioning (or Epley maneuver) usually helps resolve benign paroxysmal positional vertigo more quickly than simply waiting for your dizziness to go away. It can be done by your doctor, an audiologist or a physical therapist and involves maneuvering the position of your head.

When is vertigo serious? ›

In rare cases, vertigo may be associated with a serious medical condition, so you should call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room if your sense of imbalance is accompanied by: Shortness of breath. Chest pains. Facial numbness.

What can make vertigo worse? ›

It can make you feel like you're spinning, rocking or tilting. Feelings of unbalance may worsen when you stand, walk, change positions or move your head.

What can cause vertigo to worsen? ›

Stress, anxiety and depression can all trigger vertigo attacks. Do what you can to avoid these pressures or to manage them when they can't be prevented. Talking to a friend, taking time to relax, or using meditation techniques could help.

How do you calm vertigo? ›

Things you can do to help ease vertigo
  1. lie still in a quiet, dark room to reduce the spinning feeling.
  2. move your head carefully and slowly during daily activities.
  3. sit down straight away when you feel dizzy.
  4. turn on the lights if you get up at night.
  5. use a walking stick if you're at risk of falling.

Is vertigo a neurological problem? ›

Vertigo may be secondary to inner ear pathology, or any existing brainstem or cerebellar lesion but may also be psychogenic. Central vertigo is a consequence of a central nervous system lesion. It is often associated with a focal neurological deficit.

What disease starts with vertigo? ›

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to dizzy spells (vertigo) and hearing loss. In most cases, Meniere's disease affects only one ear. Meniere's disease can occur at any age, but it usually starts between young and middle-aged adulthood.

Can vertigo cause a stroke? ›

Recurrent attacks of vertigo have been reported to be important predictors of a future stroke. A recent study reported that vertigo is one of the most common symptoms of vertebrobasilar ischemia, which comprises about 20% of all ischemic strokes.

Is vertigo mental or physical? ›

It can also be caused by conditions affecting the balance structures in the inner ear, including infections and Meniere's disease. However, there isn't always a physical cause for vertigo. Sometimes it seems to be linked to our emotions instead.

What happens when vertigo doesn't go away? ›

If the symptoms are very severe and don't go away, surgery on the vestibular system (the organ of balance) may be considered. This involves destroying either the nerve fibers in the affected semicircular canal, or the semicircular canal itself. The sensory hair cells can then no longer pass information on to the brain.

Does anxiety cause vertigo? ›

About 5 percent of American adults experience vertigo, and many people notice it when they're feeling stressed or anxious. Even though stress doesn't directly cause vertigo, it can contribute to dysfunction of the part of your inner ear that controls balance, called your vestibular system.

Can you drive with vertigo? ›

Driving with Dizziness is Against the Law

If you are dizzy at all or recovering from a vertigo attack, then driving should be avoided.

Is vertigo a symptom of brain tumor? ›

Is vertigo a symptom of a brain tumor? Room spinning dizziness is a not a common brain tumor symptom and is more often related to an inner ear problem.

Is vertigo a permanent condition? ›

Vertigo can be temporary or permanent, depending on the patient. Those who have suffered a head or neck injury might experience chronic or long-term vertigo. Treatment may be a combination of medications and physical therapy. Although very rare, your ENT specialist may choose to recommend surgery.

What medications can cause vertigo? ›

The list of drugs that may cause vertigo or dizziness is impressive. It includes anti-convulsants, anesthetics, anti-depressants, analgesics, anti-diabetics, contraceptives, anti-inflammatory drugs, cardiovascular drugs, sedatives, tranquillizers, cytotoxic agents, and anti-hypertensive agents.

What is the most severe type of vertigo? ›

According to the American Institute of Balance, peripheral vertigo is usually more severe than central vertigo. Peripheral vertigo is the result of a problem with your inner ear, which controls balance. Central vertigo refers to problems within your brain or brainstem.

What will a neurologist do for vertigo? ›

In a general sense, vertigo-associated disease is commonly treated using vestibular blocking agents or VBAs. These include medications such as antihistamines (promethazine or betahistine), benzodiazepines (diazepam or lorazepam), or antiemetics (prochlorperazine or metoclopramide).

What condition is similar to vertigo? ›

Check if you have labyrinthitis

The most common symptoms of labyrinthitis are: dizziness or feeling that everything around you is spinning (vertigo) feeling unsteady and off balance – you might find it difficult to stay upright or walk in a straight line. feeling or being sick.

What are the two types of vertigo? ›

There are two types of vertigo, peripheral and central vertigo.

What kind of viruses cause vertigo? ›

The most common causes of vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis are viral infections, often resulting from a systemic virus such as influenza (flu) or the herpes viruses, which cause chickenpox, shingles and cold sores.

Is there a surgery for vertigo? ›

Labyrinthectomy. This is a surgical procedure that is performed to treat vertigo in an affected ear that has little hearing ability, and is often used as a last resort treatment. This treatment is performed in a hospital under general anesthesia.

Is vertigo related to blood pressure? ›

Vertigo occurs in 20% hypertensive patients and is unrelated to elevated blood pressure. It is rather due to associated neurological, peripheral vestibular and other diseases. APM shows that vertigo occurs in hypotension after intake of hypotensive drugs.

Is vertigo more serious than something? ›

Most of the time, vertigo is nothing to write home about and will often clear on its own. If you experience dizzy spells or the sensation of feeling off-balance, you may have vertigo without knowing. However, if the world around you is spinning while you're sitting still, it could point to a more serious condition.

How does vertigo affect the brain? ›

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

In BPPV, these crystals become dislodged and fall into the semicircular canals. There, each fallen crystal touches sensory hair cells during movement. As a result, the brain receives inaccurate information about a person's position, and spinning dizziness occurs.

Is it normal to have vertigo everyday? ›

Vertigo may be a permanent or semi-permanent state for some individuals. People who've had a stroke, head injury, or neck injury may experience long-term or chronic vertigo.

Can you be hospitalized for vertigo? ›

When To Seek Vertigo Emergency Care. Vertigo emergency care is recommended if you are experiencing new, severe dizziness or vertigo with any of the following symptoms: sudden, severe headache. shortness of breath.

Can caffeine affect vertigo? ›

Caffeine can sometimes be an aggravating factor for certain conditions that cause vertigo. I will share four specific examples. For people with true Meniere's disease, caffeine can trigger a vertigo attack. People who are diagnosed with Meniere's disease usually cut down on salt and caffeine to reduce attacks.

Is rest good for vertigo? ›

“In rare cases, people who experience debilitating vertigo might need surgery, but I find that lying down in the dark, avoiding lights, TVs, and other distractions, and just getting some rest can ease my symptoms,” she said.

What position is good for vertigo? ›

Many experts recommend that you try and sleep on your back, as the crystals within your ear canals are less likely to become disturbed and trigger a vertigo attack. If you happen to get up in the middle of the night, rise slowly as opposed to making any sudden movements with the head or the neck.

Does laying down make vertigo worse? ›

BBPV and Dizziness When Lying Down

This can result in sudden, brief periods of intense vertigo, the type of dizziness that makes it feel like the room is spinning around you. Dizziness symptoms associated with BPPV often occur when you lie down or roll over in bed.

Can we use pillow in vertigo? ›

Most commonly, people with BPPV learn to sleep propped up on pillows and avoid sleeping on the involved side to prevent feelings of vertigo when lying down.

Can neck issues cause vertigo? ›

Cervical vertigo, or cervicogenic dizziness, is a neck-related sensation in which a person feels like either they're spinning or the world around them is spinning. Poor neck posture, neck disorders, or trauma to the cervical spine cause this condition.

How do you reset the crystals in your ears? ›

Follow these steps if the problem is with your right ear:
  1. Start by sitting on a bed.
  2. Turn your head 45 degrees to the right.
  3. Quickly lie back, keeping your head turned. ...
  4. Turn your head 90 degrees to the left, without raising it. ...
  5. Turn your head and body another 90 degrees to the left, into the bed.

How is vertigo diagnosed? ›

An otolaryngologist performs a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of the cause of vertigo. He or she uses delicate instruments to magnify and examine the ear canal and eardrum. Your doctor may also examine your eye movements or ask you to track an object from one point in space to another.

What is the difference between dizziness and vertigo? ›

While these words are often used interchangeably, they describe different sensations. Dizziness is the feeling of being lightheaded, foggy or unsteady. Vertigo, which is less common than dizziness, is an overall spinning sensation.


1. Dizziness: Frequently-asked questions - Online interview
(Top Doctors UK)
2. FAQ: What is the Most Common Vestibular Disorder? BPPV - with Dr. Kimberley Bell, DPT
(Kim Bell, DPT)
3. Ask the expert: dizziness and balance problems
(The Multiple Sclerosis Trust)
4. An Approach to Vertigo
(Strong Medicine)
5. FAQ: Why Do I Get Dizzy When I Look Up? with Dr. Kimberley Bell, DPT
(Kim Bell, DPT)
6. Top 3 Signs Your Vertigo is BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo)
(Bob & Brad)

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