Vertigo

Vertigo is not a disease but a symptom of balance disorder which can be due to any number of causes. It is defined as an “illusion” or “hallucination” of movement. It is the feeling that you or your environment is moving or spinning when there is no actual movement.

Vertigo or Dizziness occurs when the inner ear malfunctions from a variety of causes creating an imbalance between the semicircular canals. Vertigo caused by a dysfunction of the inner ear creates a sensation of spinning or turning and may cause nausea. The more common cases of Vertigo include:

  • Positional Vertigo – This is caused by a migration of inner ear crystals out of their correct location, that when stimulated with quick head movement gives the brain a false sense of spinning. The spinning sensation usually lasts a few seconds but can be very alarming and dangerous. With proper diagnosis, this can be easily treated with a form of physical therapy to encourage the crystals to migrate back to the correct location in the inner ear.
  • Meniers Disease – A syndrome causing a build-up of fluid in the inner ear that causes a fluctuating hearing loss, a sensation of fullness, and ringing or roaring. The vertigo often occurs in attacks and can last for several hours or days. Treatment involves a low sodium diet, medications to reduce the fluid in the inner ear, and if allergies are present, allergy treatment.
  • Labrynthitis – Due to a viral infection of the inner ear that causes severe vertigo. The inflammation caused by the viral infection causes a dysfunction of the inner ear and can often be improved with medications designed to reduce inflammation.
  • Acoustic Neuroma – A benign tumor growing on a nerve responsible for transmitting signals to the brain from the inner ear. This tumor is slow growing and benign but does need to be treated with surgery or radiation to prevent further growth.

The ear is a complex organ that allows detection of sounds around you and also assists in maintenance of balance. Sound is collected through the external ear and ear canal, which vibrates the eardrum and ossicles which are tiny bones behind the eardrum. The cochlea (inner ear) then picks up the sound waves and generates nerve impulses to the brain that we interpret as sound. The semicircular canals are three sets of balance receptors that give the brain information to maintain your balance. When the semicircular canals are not working properly, this may cause dizziness.

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