While vertigo has been linked to a fear of heights, the two conditions are not synonymous. You can experience vertigo by looking down from an extremely high position, but that's not always the case. The condition of vertigo is marked by a sudden feeling of dizziness or a series of dizzy episodes. The sensation is caused by a problem in the brain or inner ear that adversely affects your equilibrium. In addition to feeling dizzy, an episode can also cause a feeling of lightheadedness, nausea, and a feeling that your ear is clogged or stuffed. You may also suffer from frequent headaches if an infection in the brain or inner ear is causing you to experience vertigo. In some cases, the condition also results in nystagmus, or uncontrollable shifting of the eyes. In order to treat vertigo, the underlying cause must first be diagnosed by a doctor.
Common Causes of Vertigo
There are several different medical conditions which may cause vertigo in the sufferer. Some of them include:
- Labyrinthitis - This is an infection that's located in the inner ear. Labyrinthitis affects the vestibulocochlear nerve, which is centered within the labyrinth of the inner ear, inhibiting its ability to send messages to the brain. As a result, the nerve and brain can't work together to regulate head motion or the position of the head. Hearing loss, headaches, and ear pain also accompany the symptom of vertigo when someone suffers from this condition.
- Vestibular Neuritis - This condition resembles labyrinthitis, except that it causes the vestibular nerve to become inflamed. Additionally, vestibular neuritis won't typically impede the individual's ability to hear. Instead, episodes of vertigo are accompanied by blurry eyesight, nausea that may be accompanied by vomiting, and problems maintaining one's balance.
- Cholesteatoma - When someone has had frequent or multiple ear infections, scarring can lead to an accumulation of tissue in the inner ear. While this skin growth is rarely cancerous, it can affect the equilibrium and one's ability to hear. As a result, an individual with cholesteatoma often experiences episodes of vertigo.
- Ménière’s Disease - Typically, adults aged from 40 to 60 face the highest risks of developing Ménière’s disease, and it's currently estimated that 615,000 adults suffer from the condition. Each year, there are up to 45,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States. The condition is marked by a buildup of fluid in the inner ear, which causes vertigo and hearing loss. A ringing in the ears is also a common symptom. No one knows what causes Ménière’s disease, but researchers believe it's the result of blood vessel constriction in the ears. This may be caused by an autoimmune disease or a viral infection.
How vertigo is treated will depend on the underlying cause since it's most often a symptom of another condition. In some cases, vertigo can go away on its own, making it unnecessary to undergo any medical treatment at all. In other cases, treating the underlying condition will eliminate vertigo and the other symptoms associated with the condition. For example, when vertigo is caused by an infection in the inner ear, treatment may merely involve taking antibiotics to attack the infection. There are also maneuvers that anyone may perform to alleviate episodes of vertigo. Some of them are described below.
- Epley Maneuver - As you position yourself on a bed, rotate your head slightly to your left and fall back quickly. You should land with your pillow resting between your shoulder blades. After your vertigo has dissipated (about 30 seconds), rotate your head towards the other direction. After half a minute, continue turning your body right until you can see the floor. After another half a minute, gradually rise.
- Semont Maneuver - This maneuver also requires you to begin in the same position with your head turned towards the right shoulder. Instead of reclining straight back, lie on the left part of your body. After 30 seconds, turn your body right while keeping your head stationary. Look downwards for another 30 seconds before slowly rising to a sitting position.
Foster Maneuver - Sitting on your knees, look upwards for up to five seconds. Next, lower your upper body until your chin is tucked between your knees. Hold this position for half a minute. Rotate your head until you're facing the side of the afflicted ear and hold that position for half a minute or until the episode passes. As you move into a position in which your hands and knees are on the floor, lift your head swiftly. Again, look at the ceiling for 30 seconds. Continue looking to the side of the afflicted ear as you slowly stand.
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