Characteristics of vertigo

This article was endorsed by Hassan Abdullah Shakeel - Medical graduate from Nishtar Medical University Multan

Symptoms, causes, and treatment of vertigo

What is vertigo?

altura vertigo
In the image, the petrified waterfall of Hierve el Agua, in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Vertigo is a subjective feeling of being everything spinning around you. The person who feels vertigo may also experience that it is their own body that becomes unstable, turns, or falls.

It is a different symptom than dizziness, which is characterized by a sense of instability or imbalance.

The contemplation of a landscape from a cliff can produce in some people the sensation of vertigo (vertigo of height). Many specialists consider it false vertigo and include it within what is known as “acrophobia” or fear of heights.

How is the sensation of having vertigo?

Vertigo is often shown in conjunction with involuntary unilateral or bilateral eye movements, which can move spasmodically in many directions (right to left or vice versa, top to bottom or bottom to top).

They can also make rotational movements.

This type of uncontrolled and spasmodic movements are known as nystagmus.

Who is affected by vertigo?

Vertigo can affect anyone, although it occurs mainly from the age of 40. It is a very common problem in people over 70 years old, being more common in women than in men. It affects nearly 40% of those over 80 and 30% of those over 65 years.

Vertigo can be chronic and remain more or less constant and can appear from time to time in the form of more or less frequent episodes.

How do I know that I have vertigo?

The main symptoms of vertigo are:

  • Rotation of the body or the environment
  • It seems as if the body cannot stop
  • It seems as if the exterior does not stop moving
  • Feeling of instability
  • Involuntary eye movement (nystagmus)
  • Outside laps
  • Fatigue
  • Increased sweat
  • Momentary deafness
  • Hypotension
  • Tachycardia
  • Fear
  • Headache
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sickness
  • Vomiting

Why does vertigo occur?

Our body has a series of sensory organs responsible for transmitting the movement and position sensations to the brain. Vertigo occurs as a consequence of the brain not being able to interpret any of the signals sent by these sensory organs, which are the following:

The eyes

The organ of balance located in the inner ear: In the inner ear is the organ of balance. Problems affecting the middle ear often affect balance (vestibular disorders). Vertigo usually is related to injuries in the semicircular canals like Ménière’s disease, causing dizziness, vertigo, and loss of hearing, etc. It can also be caused by damage to the nerves that carry the signal from the ear to the brain.

The receptors located in the muscles: Proprioceptive sensations are transmitted either through the receptors within the muscle fibers or ones present within the muscle tendons.

In Ménière’s disease, there is an alteration of the fluid that leads to the appearance of vertigo along with deafness, tinnitus, and other symptoms. Changes in the blood flow to the inner ear can also cause vertigo, as sometimes happens with people with hypertension medications, with low levels of blood sugar, ingestion of Alcohol, nicotine in the snuff, and use of caffeine.

Causes of vertigo

The possible factors that affect sensory receptors and cause vertigo are, for example:

• Ear problems: The ear is the organ that controls balance. Many dysfunctions of the ear produce alterations in the fluid of the inner ear that alter the sense of balance. Among them, the most important is Ménière’s disease, but it can also be caused by others, such as tumors of the auditory nerve, injuries inside the ear, ear infections, and inflammation of the ear, etc.

• Other diseases: Poor circulation caused by the low elasticity of the blood vessels ( Arteriosclerosis), heart problems with the presence of arrhythmias, head injuries, nerve disorders, hypertension or hypotension problems, anemia, multiple sclerosis, etc. can manifest in the form of vertigo

• Digestive problems: Poor digestion or food allergies or poisoning cause discomfort with feelings of vomiting and vertigo.

• Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar can lead to the same symptoms.

• The spirit, the coffee, the snuff, and other drugs (antidepressants, sedatives, or contraceptives, for example) favor the onset of vertigo.

• Unusual external stimuli: For example, when we approach a place from where we see a lot of height at our feet (vertigo of height). This is a reaction to the danger of getting too close to the edge. It responds, therefore, to a survival stimulus.

How to avoid the appearance of vertigo?

Among the main tips to avoid or make vertigo more bearable we would mention the following:

Change eating habits: The substitution of a diet rich in saturated fats that produce cholesterol for one that abounds in natural plant foods improves circulation both in the ear and in the brain, leading to an improvement in the treatment of vertigo or prevents its appearance. Reduce your daily salt intake.

Controlling movements: Certain changes in position can cause momentary dizziness, known as posture dizziness. Gentle movements are necessary to prevent them. Exercises of concentration and fixation of the sight at a specific point are a good way to train the mind and avoid instability.

Avoid violent exercises: Violent physical activity is not good for ears and could manifest itself in the form of vertigo. On the other hand, moderate exercise improves circulation and favors it.

Diagnosis of vertigo

If the aforementioned symptoms recur regularly, a visit to the doctor is recommended to diagnose the disease, because they may indicate a more serious disease.

The diagnosis is based on a personal interview of the patient with the doctor. The patient must explain to the doctor how he feels, when and how often his vertigo occurs, what type of medication he takes if he has suffered a strong blow, if he feels beeping, etc. With all this, the doctor prepares a history that will be necessary to define the type of vertigo that the patient suffers and how it should be treated.

Next, you will go to a physical examination of the patient to check the condition of his ear, throat, and nose.

By doing bilateral ear examination, one can rule out ear infection as a cause of vertigo. Ear problems are the main causes of vertigo.

The doctor will also check if the patient suffers from vertigo when moving the head from one side to another when lying down or bending over. He observes how the patient responds to the vestibulo-ocular reflex test.

To confirm the diagnosis, the patient may require tests such as blood tests, to check the presence of cholesterol or diabetes in the blood.

Other complementary tests may also be prescribed to look for the presence of tumors, lesions, or malformations in the ear or the auditory nerves, such as:

  • X-rays
  • MRI scans
  • CT scans
  • Electronystagmography, in which way the eyes send signals to the brain.

Vertigo treatment

The official treatment of vertigo is mainly cause-specific

There are also medications specifically intended to treat vertigo. These are antihistamine drugs, vasodilators, psychotropic drugs, etc.

In addition to the use of drugs, a series of physical therapy exercises aimed at restoring balance when walking, increasing the ability of the feet to maintain balance, and walking better and exercises aimed at achieving that when moving the head or eyes are recommended. No imbalance problems occur.

punto rojo More information on vertigo

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

30 June, 2020

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