Vertigo is a common balance disorder most notable for the spinning sensation it causes. People who experience vertigo describe it as a sensation of movement, despite the lack of any actual movement. This is the result of disruptions in the transmission of signals between the inner ear and brain.
In addition to dizziness and a feeling that the room is moving, other signs of vertigo can include nausea, vomiting, blurred or double vision, hearing loss, tinnitus, and a feeling of fullness in the ears.
Vertigo may be classified as either peripheral or central.
Peripheral vertigo is caused by problems within the inner ear itself. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of peripheral vertigo and is described in greater detail elsewhere. Other causes of peripheral vertigo include vestibular neuronitis, and Meniere’s disease.
Central vertigo is the result of a problem in the brain—typically the brainstem or cerebellum, both of which are responsible for interactions between the visual and balance systems. Migraine headaches are frequently the source of central vertigo; less common triggers include stroke, tumors, acoustic neuroma, multiple sclerosis, alcohol and medications.
Treatment Options for Vertigo
Because vertigo is a symptom and not a condition itself, any successful solution involves treating the underlying condition. This can involve everything from simple head maneuvers to medication, physical therapy and even surgery. For this reason, it is imperative that you see your doctor for a complete evaluation of your vertigo.
Re-Positioning Maneuver (Epley)
The Epley maneuver is a re-positioning procedure used to treat vertigo in patients suffering from BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo). Named after the physician who developed the treatment in 1980, the maneuver involves a series of head rotations at different angles that cause the calcium particles responsible for a patient’s dizziness to move from the semicircular canals back to the utricle, restoring equilibrium. Patients who experience frequent outbreaks can be taught to perform the re-positioning maneuvers on their own at home.
VNG (Videonystagmography) is a balance system test often used to help identify the cause of dizziness in some patients. The test uses infrared cameras and video goggles to measure involuntary eye movements in response to a series of visual tasks and inner ear stimuli (warm and cool air). It usually consists of four parts and can determine whether a balance disorder is the result of a vestibular system disorder.