For patients suffering from vertigo, treatment is available and usually successful in improving or eliminating the symptoms.
For most people, getting a little dizzy or lightheaded when standing up too fast is a common, benign issue. We recover quickly. Those with vertigo, though, have this type of feeling more often, causing discomfort and quality of life issues. The symptoms can be sudden and last for a short period of time or for days.
Managing symptoms takes patience and dedication, but when followed properly, patients can live a high-quality life.
Symptoms of Vertigo
Each person may experience different symptoms of vertigo, but the most overwhelming symptom is a dizziness that leaves the sufferer feeling like he or she is spinning, swaying, or off balance. One can even feel pulled in a certain direction. Vertigo symptoms include:
- Hearing loss
- Abnormal eye movements
Causes of Vertigo
A vestibular disorder, vertigo affects the inner ear and areas of the brain that control balance and eye movement. It is the result of diseases that affect the inner ear or brain. Certain cerebrovascular, metabolic, and neuromuscular disorders, including trauma and tumors, are common examples. Because of the varying sources of the symptoms, the exact cause needs to be determined in order to find the right treatment method.
Vertigo can be broken down into two types: central and peripheral. When the symptoms derive from the central nervous system, it is referred to as central, whereas peripheral, the most common form, derives from the inner ear. Treatment methods are based on diagnosing which type of vertigo is present.
Common causes of vertigo include:
- Benign positional vertigo (BPV) – temporary spinning feeling caused by head movements
- Vestibular migraine – motion, light, or sound sensitivity associated with migraines
- Meniere’s disease – episodic vertigo with hearing loss, ringing sounds, and pressure
- Trauma or structural damage – due to infection, birth defect, or injury
- Cholesteatoma – a skin growth in the middle ear which damages the sense of balance
- Acoustic neuroma – a tumor which causes one sided hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or numbness in the face
- Labyrinthitis – a severe, sudden dizziness with hearing loss that lasts two or more weeks, most likely from a viral infection in the ear
Diagnosis and Treatment
After an exam, tests and scans, the doctor will be able to determine the cause and type of vertigo that is affecting the patient.
Depending on the cause and type, treatments can include physical therapy, exercise, medication, or surgery. For BPV, treatment is usually performed in the office through a treatment called the “Epley maneuver.” For vertigo caused by calcium particles, the patient is asked to complete exercises to move the particles to position where the body can easily absorb them. With other causes, medication is given to relieve the symptom, and still some other causes will require surgery.