Vertigo & Dizziness Causes & Symptoms

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What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a specific kind of dizziness that is caused by the balance organs in the inner ear. Vertigo causes a sensation that is often associated with looking down from a great height, and is characterized by the sense that the environment around you is moving, even though it is still. In a medical sense, vertigo does not necessarily have to do with heights. Rather, it has various medical causes relating to balance within the organs of the ear.

What causes vertigo and dizziness?

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 environment correctly, the body is unable to balance as usual. Possible causes of dizziness or vertigo may include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) (change of position)
  • Viral infection causing inflammation
  • Head injury
  • Ear surgery
  • Meniere’s disease (buildup of fluid in inner ear)
  • Bed rest
  • Low blood flow in the brain
  • Acoustic neuroma (benign growth on inner-ear nerve)
  • Migraine headache
  • Stroke
  • Tumor

What are the typical symptoms of vertigo?

Vertigo and dizziness symptoms may include:

  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Spinning
  • Fullness in the ear

What are the risk factors for vertigo?

Factors that may increase your risk of experiencing vertigo include:

  • Previous head injury
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Taking certain medications:
    • Blood pressure medication
    • Antidepressants
    • Aspirin
    • Anti-seizure medication

How is vertigo diagnosed?

New York ENT doctors are specialists in ear, nose and throat conditions, such as vertigo, and can accurately diagnose the condition after a consultation and physical exam. Patients usually discuss their medical history and symptoms with New York ENT doctors, and may also be asked to undergo further vertigo testing if needed. Some tests that may be done to help determine if a patient is suffering from vertigo include:

  • Nystigmus test
  • Dix-Hallpike test
  • Head impulse test
  • Unterberger’s test for vertigo
  • Videonystagmography
  • Electronystagmography

All of these tests determine if a patient has vertigo by checking the eye or body movements after a doctor moves the patient in certain ways, triggering vertigo. None of the tests cause pain, but may make the patient feel the discomfort associated with vertigo.

What are the common treatments for vertigo?

Vertigo treatment may consist of one or more of the following, depending on your doctor’s recommendation:

  • Epley maneuver
  • Prescription medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery

If you are suffering from vertigo, the first step towards feeling better is to schedule an evaluation with an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor. Board certified physicians with New York ENT have extensive experience diagnosing and treating a wide variety of ear-related conditions. Fill out the form on this page or call our office at  212-873-6036  to schedule an appointment today.

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