“Everything seems to be spinning ” may be an exciting sensation one experiences after an adventurous merry-go-round or a roller coaster ride at an entertainment park, however it can be alarming when it happens without any reason.
As many as one in three people experience Vertigo, a word used to describe an abnormal sense of spinning, at least once in their lifetime according to World statistics. We may have all come across a friend or a relative who fell down and sustained injuries due to dizziness. Let’s see some of the reasons for this condition.
The human body maintains its sense of balance in day to day life by the brain coordinating input signals from the balance organs located in both ears, the visual input from the two eyes and signals sent from various joints in the body. If any of these inputs, or the processing in the brain becomes faulty, the body senses imbalance. Some of the most common causes for vertigo are due to disorders of the balance organ.
BPPV is a common condition which makes a person feel dizzy when one turns or moves one’s head. Many a time this may be on waking up from sleep, or following a fall or a violent sport and it can be quite alarming to find that they just cannot function normally. To make matters worse they may feel like vomiting on just attempting to move their head. This is caused due to calcium carbonate crystals, which are normally present within the balance organ in the inner ear, getting dislodged. This condition can quite easily be diagnosed and treated by some special head maneuvers performed on the person by the ENT Specialist.
Meniere’s disease is another condition wherein one starts hearing a buzzing or ringing sound in the ear and experiences a blocked sensation in the ear or reduced hearing, in addition to the Vertigo attack. A typical attack may last between half an hour to sometimes 3 hours. This is caused by a temporary increase in the inner ear fluid called endolymph in response to a tasty salty meal (sodium in the common salt as well as Mono-sodium glutamate – MSG being the culprit). The trigger factors in people having Meniere’s disease may include stimulants like coffee as well as stress. This condition would need detailed evaluation, some specialized tests including audiometric testing, medications as well as regular follow-up.
Vestibular Neuritis is another common condition which is caused by inflamed swollen up nerve of balance called the vestibular nerve. This condition, many a time, follows an episode of viral infection. One experiences continuous vertigo which may last for several days. This condition has specific clinical features and would require specific medications to reduce the swelling of the nerve and other symptoms.
Acute Labyrinthitis is a condition where in the organ of balance, the vestibular system, is inflamed and this usually follows an ear infection. Such a person experiences reduced hearing on the affected side as well. This would need specific medications.
At times vertigo can be a feature of migraine headaches and it can be quite alarming. It needs specialized screening examination and treatment.
Tumor of the Nerve of balance in the brain cavity, known as Vestibular schwannoma (commonly referred to as acoustic neuroma) may present with vertigo and at times mild hearing loss in addition to other specific clinical features. It is important to evaluate such persons and they would need specialized hearing testing as well as special imaging with MRI scans for identification. This condition would require surgical intervention and follow-up monitoring.
Stroke may also present with vertigo and it becomes extremely vital to identify them early and manage appropriately with specialized care. Therefore, it is extremely important for anybody with symptoms of vertigo to get evaluated at an early stage by an ENT Specialist in a Vertigo Clinic and get help with managing the specific clinical conditions. This can help prevent many falls, injuries and accidents.