If you’re a film buff, odds are when you hear the word “vertigo” you think not of dizziness but of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous 1958 psychological thriller starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak.
But if you suffer from vertigo, a dizziness that originates in the inner ear, you’re looking for a place to sit down. A call to Dr. Volpi and New York ENT is in order to stop the spinning.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is a dizziness that creates the false sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving. Vertigo causes a sensation for many people that they associate with looking down from atop a very tall building. Vertigo isn’t related to heights at all, but with problems with the inner ear.
What causes vertigo?
Vertigo is caused by disturbances in the tiny organs in the inner ear that send messages to the brain in response to the environment. If the inner ear organ system is unable to process changes in the environment correctly, the body is unable to balance as usual.
These are the common causes of vertigo:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) — The most common cause, BPPV creates a brief sense that you’re spinning or moving. These episodes are triggered by a rapid change in head movement, such as a blow to the head.
- Infection — A viral infection of the vestibular nerve, called vestibular neuritis, can cause intense, constant vertigo.
- Meniere’s disease — When excessive fluid builds up in the inner ear, the result can be sudden episodes of vertigo that last for several hours.
- Migraine — Migraine headaches can trigger vertigo.
Depending on what’s causing your vertigo, Dr. Volpi will use different treatment strategies, including:
- Epley maneuver — These are a series of movements that train the body to quickly recover from vertigo. We train you in the procedure and you do this on your own during a bout of vertigo.
- Prescription medication — Medication can reduce symptoms like nausea, but it doesn’t address the cause so is not a long-term solution.
- Physical therapy — These exercises are adapted to the individual patient. They may include balance training, gaze stabilization, and others.
- Surgery — If other treatments are not successful, Dr. Volpi may need to perform surgery. The procedure involves inserting a bone plug into the inner ear to prevent dizziness from being triggered. It is about 90 percent successful.