What You Should Know about Vertigo

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is considered a sensation of feeling off balance. People often feel like they are spinning or the world is spinning around them.

Symptoms of Vertigo

Besides spinning, there are lots of other symptoms that could indicate a person has vertigo, including:

  • Wooziness
  • Nausea
  • Brain fog
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feeling unsteady
  • Feeling wobbly
  • Fear of falling
  • Floating sensation
  • Visual sensitivity
  • Motion sensitivity
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive difficulties (often an inability to pay attention)

What are the Causes of Vertigo?

There are many causes of vertigo. The most common is known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is where tiny crystals (also called otoliths) move from specific organs of the inner ear into the semicircular canals of the inner ear which makes you feel dizzy. It can occur randomly, or it can be associated with a hit to the head or disorders that damage the inner ear.

Common causes of vertigo symptoms include:

  • Vestibular neuritis or a viral infection
  • Brain problems, such as a stroke or tumor
  • Medications that damage the ear
  • Concussions or head injuries
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Whiplash or neck injuries
  • Migraines related to vertigo
  • Meniere’s disease

Some other causes of vertigo can include taking certain medications, circulatory problems or changes in blood pressure, anxiety disorders, anemia, low blood sugar, other neurological disorders, or dehydration.

Who is Most at Risk for Developing Vertigo? Why?

Older adults are most at risk for developing vertigo due to having multiple medical conditions and being on various medications, but it’s important to note that dizziness and vertigo can affect people of all ages depending on the cause of the vertigo. 

BPPV–the most common cause of vertigo–often occurs in adults over 50. Children and teens may experience vertigo-like symptoms as a result of a concussion.

How can the ENT Institute Treat Vertigo?

Treatment for vertigo depends on the cause which is why a person should be properly evaluated by a physician, audiologist and physical therapist to find the underlying reason for their vertigo. Diagnostic information like videonystagmography (video goggles to view the eyes), computerized dynamic posturography (balance testing), and dynamic visual acuity and gaze stabilization testing (visual clarity with movement) can help us find the underlying causes of the dizziness to treat the patients appropriately.  

How we fix vertigo at the ENT Institute is through vestibular therapy.  Each person receives individualized treatment with a set of exercises and plan of care designed to address the issues found in testing. These types of exercises retrain the brain so that the three systems (visual, vestibular, and somatosensory) communicate appropriately.  For BPPV specifically, we also use head positioning maneuvers to resolve underlying problems. 

Is Vertigo Preventable?

A good rule of thumb is to live a healthy lifestyle–moving your body, eating nutrient-rich foods, and staying hydrated can help with keeping many disorders at bay. Since some causes of vertigo are viral related, good hygiene and hand washing can also help in prevention. 

If a person is experiencing symptoms of vertigo, it is important for them to be evaluated as soon as possible! Waiting could make things worse.

Our Physical Therapy Department during team training at our Brookhaven clinic.

Need to see one of our expert physical therapists? Call us at 770-740-1860.

We have Physical Therapy gyms in 4 locations – Alpharetta, Brookhaven, Peachtree City, and Gainesville