Grand Rapids ENT

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Vertigo

Vertigo is an unpleasant feeling of spinning or movement. This may be experienced as though the room around you is spinning or that you are moving when you aren’t. With vertigo, it feels as if the room is spinning, or it can feel as if you are moving. Although many patients may describe their vertigo as being “dizzy”, vertigo is defined by the definite sensation of spinning – either the room (objective) or the person (subjective). Dizziness is a term that is loosely used to describe a sensation of light-headedness or feeling faint. These symptoms are common if you are ill or haven’t eaten for several hours

Causes and concerns

There are two types of vertigo to consider: subjective vertigo and objective vertigo. With subjective vertigo, you feel like you are actually moving. In some cases, you may actually be swaying slightly. If you have objective vertigo, you feel like your surroundings are moving. Causes of vertigo include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) –This is caused by a sudden movement of your head (if you were to turn your head).
  • A migraine, usually with aura
  • Inner ear infection (viral or bacterial)
  • Meniere's disease – This condition causes objective vertigo, hearing loss, pressure in the ear and tinnitus. Meniere’s disease can come and go and you may experience symptoms for several weeks or months.
  • Acoustic neuroma –This is a tumor in the nerve tissue that causes vertigo. In addition, you will experience tinnitus (ring in the ears) and hearing loss with acoustic neuroma. Once the tumor is removed, the vertigo typically subsides.
  • Neck injuries and head trauma – Once the neck or head injury has healed, the vertigo will typically disappear.
  • Cerebellar hemorrhage – This is by far the most serious condition that can cause vertigo. A cerebral hemorrhage is a life-threatening condition and these occur during an accident (car accident, skiing accident, falls where you land on your head or hitting your head.)
  • Hormonal changes such as experienced during pregnancy

Concerning Symptoms and signs

There are many symptoms and signs that can accompany vertigo. If you or someone you love has any of these symptoms, you should consider calling for an appointment with one of our competent ear specialists. Symptoms and signs that are concerning include:

  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nasal congestion and drainage
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Earache
  • Hearing loss
  • Frequent falls or prolonged imbalance

Solutions and options

Vertigo that is caused by cerebellar hemorrhage is a medical emergency, so you should seek healthcare immediately. If the vertigo is caused by an infection, then the doctor may give you oral or IV antibiotics or treat with steroids. For other causes of vertigo, there are a variety of solutions and options to consider. The treatment depends on the cause and some types of vertigo are self-limiting, meaning they may subside with time

With the exception of the cerebellar hemorrhage, most cases of vertigo are easily treated once the cause has been identified. If you or someone you love is experiencing vertigo, call today and make an appointment with one of our ear specialists. Let us help you find a solution to your symptoms.