Dizziness and vertigo symptoms affect up to 20% of the adult population every year. There are a few different types of vertigo, and each type has its unique challenges to address.
The first step is to evaluate your symptoms and determine what type of balance condition you are dealing with. From there, it’s a matter of addressing the issue with treatments that reflect the best practices for healing.
Primary Vertigo Conditions
There are 5 primary vertigo conditions. They each have distinguishing signs in addition to the common symptoms shared by all major types.
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Meniere’s Disease
- Vestibular Neuritis
- Cervical Vertigo
The type of balance condition you experience relates to the underlying causes that brought it about. Effective treatments aim to reduce symptoms while the underlying cause is addressed, so you get as much relief as possible. As a result, finding the proper diagnosis is an important step toward finding the right treatment.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo. BPPV is caused by otoconia (tiny ear crystals) becoming displaced and floating around in the semicircular canals. BPPV causes a sudden sensation of spinning or a feeling of the room moving around you. BPPV causes brief episodes of intense dizziness that usually go away fairly quickly after a person sits still. It can also cause feelings of loss of balance, unsteadiness, and nausea or vomiting. BPPV can be triggered by specific changes in the position of the head. Many people describe this sensation when they wake up in the morning and begin to sit up to get out of bed. BPPV should not be ignored as it can increase the risk of falling if not treated. Most BPPV can be effectively treated after a few visits.
What Is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to dizzy spells that can last up to 24 hours. Meniere’s Disease is caused by the overproduction of fluid in the inner ear. This disorder causes pressure in the ears, dizziness, fluctuating hearing loss, and tinnitus. Patient’s with Meniere’s often notice the onset of symptoms with barometric pressure changes. Meniere’s Disease typically causes episodes of vertigo that progressively get worse over a period of minutes, but can also last for hours. Symptoms typically improve after a period of several hours. A diagnosis typically requires imaging and very specific neurodiagnostic testing.
Labyrinthitis Causes and Symptoms
Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear. This subtype is distinguished by a feeling of spinning, in addition to other common symptoms, such as hearing loss. Once identified, the underlying infection is treatable.
Understanding Vestibular Neuronitis
Vestibular neuronitis can be highly disorienting with a sudden attack of dizziness and accompanying nausea. The symptoms are so sudden and pronounced because the vestibular nerve controls balance. It is frequently caused by an inner ear infection or viral infection in the body. It also often comes with earaches caused by an infection moving from the inner ear to the vestibular nerve.
Cervical vertigo is caused by neck problems, usually positional ones, and as a result, the symptoms seem to revolve around the neck instead of the head. Arterial blockage, nerve pinching, and injuries to the neck are all thought to be a cause. Treatment focuses on addressing the symptoms while investigating the specific root cause.
The cause of cervical vertigo is not understood completely, and sometimes it is as simple as a temporary inner ear issue. Some common symptoms of cervical vertigo are:
- Problems focusing the eyes
- Feelings of reeling or imbalance
- Temporary hearing loss in one ear
- Sweating unrelated to room temperature
If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, treatment can help you address the discomfort. Where a complete cure is not possible, it can still minimize the effects of this condition on your day-to-day life.
Symptoms of Vertigo vs. Dizziness
Vertigo is defined as a sensation of spinning and loss of balance, which can be caused by a disorder affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve. Vertigo is typically accompanied by nystagmus (rapid movement of the eyes) and a feeling of motion sickness. Individuals with vertigo may also describe feelings of imbalance, where they may lean or tip to one side. Vertigo almost always originates somewhere in the vestibular system. Common causes of vertigo are BPPV, Meniere’s Disease, labyrinthitis, and vestibular migraine.
Patients who experience non-vestibular dizziness may describe light-headedness when going from a laying to sitting position, or sitting to standing position. They may also describe their dizziness as feeling like they are floating or on a boat.
Migraine headaches are a very common condition, specifically in women. Vestibular migraines are slightly different than the typical migraine. Vestibular migraines may or may not involve the aching headaches that most associate with migraines. Vestibular migraines can cause balance symptoms with or without a headache. Most individuals who have vestibular migraine also have a history of motion sensitivity since childhood. These migraines can involve nausea and vomiting, light sensitivity, sensitivity to noise and smell, and more of a throbbing headache in a particular spot on the head. Vestibular migraines can include dizziness or vertigo that lasts for days, sensitivity to motion, and feelings of imbalance. Vestibular migraines tend to be genetic and can cause symptoms that may seem similar to other vestibular disorders.
Schedule Your Evaluation Today
Since many of the underlying causes of symptoms are related to infections or injuries that could be serious if left untreated, an evaluation is essential when you develop symptoms. A dedicated balance center or inner ear specialist at Happy Ears Balance Center is the right choice for the best results. Ear specialists at Happy Ears Balance Center have the necessary training and experience to diagnose the condition, treat it, and if necessary, even refer you out for additional medical help with conditions that are causing symptoms.