Vertigo is common in St. George and throughout the U.S. It’s like spin class but without the bicycles or cardo benefits. Most episodes of vertigo pass quickly and aren’t serious, but any unexplained dizziness should be checked out by an audiologist or ENT specialist to rule out a potentially dangerous underlying health condition.
Symptoms of Vertigo
Vertigo is often described generically as “dizziness” or “unsteadiness” but it’s characterized by a very specific set of symptoms. People with vertigo experience a spinning sensation that makes them feel off balance. You will either feel like the room is spinning or you are. Either way, it can be momentarily frightening. Other symptoms may accompany this sensation of movement, including nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, hearing loss, blurry or double vision, and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears.
There are two types of vertigo: peripheral and central. Both are the result of medical conditions that affect the inner ear or vestibular nerve.
The vestibular system sends signals to the brain concerning the position of the head in relation to movement – vital information that enables us to keep our balance and maintain equilibrium. Disruptions to these signals cause peripheral vertigo. This is usually related to inflammation in the labyrinth or vestibular nerve of the inner ear and often follows a viral infection. Disorders that commonly cause peripheral vertigo include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a condition caused by loose calcium deposits floating in the inner ear; and Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder brought on by excess fluid buildup.
When there is a problem in the brain itself – typically the brainstem or cerebellum, both of which are vital for interactions between the visual and balance systems – central vertigo occurs. The most common culprit is migraine headaches; other, more rare causes include stroke, tumors, multiple sclerosis, acoustic neuroma, alcohol, and side effects of medications.
How is Vertigo Treated?
If you experience an occasional episode of vertigo in St. George once in a while, there is probably nothing to worry about. This is completely normal; vertigo affects 5-10 percent of Americans in any given year, a number that rises to 40 percent in adults over the age of 40. It’s more of a concern in older individuals, as 25 percent of those over the age of 65 end up falling as a result of dizziness. This can lead to a fractured hip – one of the top contributors to death for seniors. For this reason, if you are experiencing vertigo frequently, we advise you to make an appointment with a St. George balance specialist as soon as possible.
Your doctor will give you a thorough medical evaluation and is likely to order diagnostic tests to help determine the cause of your vertigo. These might include a CT scan or MRI. Treatment will depend on the severity of your vertigo and the underlying condition causing it. Solutions might involve medication, physical or occupational therapy, head maneuvers, and repositioning exercises.