Vertigo is one of many types of dizziness that make people seek medical care. Vertigo is not a disease in and of itself. The diagnosis of vertigo is an incomplete diagnosis because it is a symptom of an underlying disease. We define vertigo as the sensation of dizziness whereby the person experiences the feeling of motion or movement when there is none. The feeling of movement might seem as if the room is moving or that you are moving when you are not or lastly, that objects in the room are moving. The vertigo can cause nausea and/or vomiting. If you spin yourself around in circles long enough you will probably experience this sensation.
There are different diseases that cause vertigo. One disease that causes vertigo is found in the inner ear with its semicircular canals that serve as the balance centers in the brain. Benign positional vertigo is the most common disease seen by ear specialists in which vertigo is the main symptom. Luckily, it is usually easily treated. It is caused by microscopic particles forming in the inner ear. These particles float around in the inner ear fluids bumping into other structures and thereby causing the vertigo.
Another cause of vertigo is called vestibular neuronitis. This also is readily treatable. Most authorities feel this is caused by certain viruses attacking the inner ear. Acute labyrinthitis is another vertigo-causing disease. Unlike the conditions above, this requires urgent treatment to prevent hearing loss. It may be caused by a bacterial or viral inner ear infection. Meniere's disease, another disorder of the inner ear, is a fairly frequent cause of vertigo as well. Once again an ear specialist can help with treatment. There are even migraines that cause vertigo with or without associated headaches.
How To Tell Which Disease Is Causing Your Vertigo?
A description (history) of the attack(s) with an ear physical exam, hearing test and some lab tests will usually give the correct diagnosis and lead to proper treatment. With benign positional vertigo a person will usually complain of brief episodes of spinning when they move their head into certain positions. A common account would be every time I roll over to my right side when lying down in bed I spin until changing position. An ear specialist can treat this with a short physical therapy session that gets the inner ear particles stuck in a place where they don't float around in the inner ear.
With vestibular neuronitis the vertigo usually lasts for a much longer time (hours, days or even weeks). There is no sensation of ear pain or hearing loss. It can be very disabling but medication is available to treat it.
Labyrinthitis also causes prolonged vertigo as with vestibular neuritis, but there is also hearing loss in one ear and may be pain or ear drainage. This can be serious, leading to permanent hearing loss or permanent imbalance. Because Labyrinthitis is an emergency, the sooner treatment is started the more likely a successful outcome.
Meniere's disease is a complicated problem because it has many causes. The symptoms are typically episodes of vertigo lasting hours along with a feeling of fullness and hearing loss in the involved ear. These episodes may recur for many years and result in permanent hearing damage. A variety of treatments are available for this illness as well.
At Advanced Ear Nose and Throat Care, our physicians Dr. Michael Bard, Dr. James Batti, Dr. Dov Bloch, Dr. Anthony Fama, Dr. Jay Klarsfeld, and Dr. Jeffrey Monroe treat most conditions of the ear, head, neck, eyes, nose and throat. These conditions range from ear infections, tonsil and adenoids, sleep disturbance, thyroid nodules and palate surgery to nasal polyps, deviated septum sleep apnea and silent reflux. We are conveniently located in Fairfield County, CT in the towns of Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk, Ridgefield and Southbury.