Disorders and DiseasesGeneral Health Issues

Vertigo: Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Vertigo? Definition, Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Medication and Complications of Vertigo.

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo in simple terms is severe dizziness, or giddiness, the feeling that you or your environment seems to be spinning. It differs from simple dizziness or lightheadedness, in that, the feeling is one of being in the illusion of a continuous spinning movement for a very long period. If you feel that you are spinning that’s called subjective vertigo, and the feeling that the area around you is spinning is called objective vertigo.

How does vertigo occur? Types of Vertigo

Based on the cause, there are different types of vertigo:

Peripheral vertigo :

This condition occurs when there is a problem with your inner ear, which controls the balance. The passage of the inner ear has small organs that enable messages to be sent to the brain, in response to gravity. Such messages relay to the brain when there is a movement away from the vertical position, which enables people to keep their balance when they stand up. Malfunctioning of this system leads to this type of vertigo.

forms of peripheral vertigo :

  • Labyrinthitis
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Vestibular neuronitis
  • Meniere’s disease

Central vertigo :

This condition occurs when there is a disturbance in the sensory nerve pathways of the brain, It involves a disturbance in one of the following areas:

  • The brainstem and cerebellum, which are the parts that deal with the interaction between the senses of your vision and balance
  • Sensory messages to and from the part of brain known as the thalamus.

What are the causes of vertigo?

Causes of Central Vertigo :

A migraine headache is the most common cause of this type of vertigo,  At least 40- 45% of the patients with migraine experience vertigo.

Causes of Peripheral vertigo :

This type divided into many subtypes depending on the causes of the occurrence of this condition such as…


Labyrinthitis is caused by the inner ear infection. It is often accompanied by a few other symptoms like fever and earache. Illnesses including viral fever, cold, flu, or bacterial ear infection often cause this infection. Labyrinthitis can makes you feel dizziness or a feeling that you’re moving when you aren’t.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo -BPPV:

This is the most common type of peripheral vertigo. Small calcium particles (canaliths) clump up in canals of the inner ear, stimulating the small hairs that line your inner ear and then certain head movements trigger BPPV. This confuses the brain, producing the sensation of dizziness.

Vestibular neuronitis:

This condition is caused by the result of an infection that has spread to the vestibular nerve, which controls balance. This happens after a viral infection including a cold, flu, or any other viral infection. Other symptoms can also accompany this condition like unsteadiness, earache, nausea, and vomiting

Meniere’s disease:

This condition causes vertigo which can last for the duration up to 24 hours. It generally affects the people between the ages of 40 years and 60 years. In this condition there is a buildup of fluid in the inner ear can result in attacks of vertigo. It is accompanied by symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Meniere’s disease may cause hearing loss, ringing in your ears, and a feeling of fullness in your ears.

Peripheral vertigo may also be caused by:

  • A head injury
  • Vertebrobasilar ischemia –  Reduced blood flow in part of the brain
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Ear surgery
  • Prolonged bed rest
  • Drug toxicity
  • Syphilis
  • Herpes zoster oticus – which is a viral infection of the ear, also known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome
  • Otosclerosis -which is a genetic ear bone problem that causes hearing loss
  • Perilymphatic fistula – which is a tear in one or both of the membranes separating the middle and inner ear

Symptoms of Vertigo

  • Weakness
  • A headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Heart palpitations (rapid fluttering of the heart)
  • Imbalance
  • Inability to concentrate
  • A sense of motion sickness
  • Inability to speak
  • Increased risk for motion sickness
  • Muscle ache (especially neck pain and back pain)
  • Sweating
  • Tinnitus
  • Reduced cognitive function (i.e., thinking and memory)
  • Sensitivity to bright lights and noise

Who is prone to vertigo?

  • A person with 50 years and older age
  • People who suffering from a migraine
  • A person with problems of the inner ear
  • People had a head injury
  • A person who has a reduced blood flow in part of the brain, also known as vertebrobasilar ischemia
  • People have undergone ear surgery
  • People undergoing prolonged bed rest due to any illness

Diagnosis of Vertigo

  • Physical Examination
  • Blood test to check your blood sugar levels
  • CT Scan / MRI / ECG
  • General Physician can refer you to ENT Specialist, neurologist, or Physiotherapist

What are the complications of vertigo?

  • Irritability
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Injuries from falls
  • Double vision(diplopia)
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Dysarthria – inability to speak due to muscle impairment
  • Lack of coordination

What is the treatment for vertigo?

Treatments of vertigo are self-care home remedies, medications, and physical therapy maneuvers.

Home Remedies :

  • Ginger rootginkgo biloba, and coriander can reduce the symptoms of this condition. 
  • Acupuncture may also provide relief from this problem
  • There have been few claims that essential oils, including peppermint, ginger, lavender, and frankincense, can help relieve symptoms of vertigo. 

Medications :

This condition can be treated with medicine taken by mouth, through medicine placed on the skin as a patch, a suppository, or drugs are given through an IV.

Commonly prescribed medications for vertigo include the following:
  • meclizine 
  • scopolamine transdermal patch 
  • promethazine hydrochloride
  • metoclopramie 
  • odansetron 
  • diazepam 
  • lorazepan 
  • clonazepam

Treatment and Home Remedies to Manage Vertigo: Click Here

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