What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a sensation of motion or spinning, often described as dizziness, but it is not the same as being lightheaded. Those experiencing vertigo feel as though they are actually spinning or moving, or that the world is spinning around them.
There are two different types of vertigo:
- Peripheral Vertigo
- Central Vertigo
Peripheral vertigo occurs when there is an issue with the vestibular labyrinth or semicircular canals in the inner ear, which are responsible for maintaining balance. It can also involve the vestibular nerve, which links the inner ear to the brain stem.
Some of the causes of peripheral vertigo include:
- Benign positional vertigo (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, also known as BPPV)
- Certain medicines, such as aminoglycoside antibiotics, cisplatin, diuretics, or salicylates, which are toxic to the inner ear structures
- Injury (such as head injury)
- Inflammation of the vestibular nerve (neuronitis)
- Irritation and swelling of the inner ear (labyrinthitis)
- Meniere disease
- Pressure on the vestibular nerve, usually from a noncancerous tumor such as a meningioma or schwannoma
Central vertigo is a condition caused by a disease originating from the central nervous system (CNS) and is often accompanied by lesions of cranial nerve VIII. Those affected by vertigo experience hallucinations of motion in their surroundings.
Some of the causes of central vertigo include:
- Blood vessel disease
- Certain drugs, such as anticonvulsants, aspirin, and alcohol
- Multiple sclerosis
- Seizures (rarely)
- Tumors (cancerous or noncancerous)
- Vestibular migraine, a type of migraine headache
What Does Vertigo Feel Like?
Vertigo may feel like a sense of imbalance in your body, which affects your equilibrium. This can make it difficult to determine if you are moving upwards, downwards, or sideways. Here are some signs that can help you recognize if you are currently experiencing or have experienced vertigo:
- The sensation that the room or atmosphere around you is swirling rapidly.
- Feeling nauseous or experiencing motion sickness.
- Sensation of dizziness or feeling like you might fall when standing.
- Feeling the urge to vomit.
- Blurred vision and difficulty seeing things and people clearly.
- Lightheadedness or headaches.
- Ringing one or both of your ears.
- Loss of balance.
- Unsteady footsteps, making it challenging to walk from one place to another.
Why Does Vertigo Happen?
Vertigo occurs when your body loses its balance, causing a sensation of spinning or a spinning environment. Biologically, this happens because the organ of equilibrium, known as the vestibular system, detects a change in your body’s balance through the movement of your head. However, it is unable to communicate this information to your brain and body in relation to your surroundings, due to a disruption in the connection between the vestibular system, the acoustic nerve, and the hair cells in your inner ear.
What Triggers Vertigo?
Vertigo can be caused or triggered by several factors, including:
- Stressful brain injuries, which are a result of physical violence, accidents, or falls.
- Changes to vision or the use of vision-assisted aids such as prescription glasses or contact lenses.
- Surgeries that affect the inner ears.
- Problems caused by bacterial or viral infections in the internal ears.
- Cervical Acceleration-Deceleration (CAD), also known as whiplash.
- Other types of neck injuries.
Additionally, vertigo may occur if you have experienced anything that affects the sense of balance in your vestibular system, vision, or motion sensors in your joints, skin, and muscles.
Vertigo can be effectively resolved and treated through the collaborative efforts of two healthcare professionals: a chiropractor and an audiologist. An audiologist specializes in surgical options and prescribing medications to address vertigo-related dizziness, while a chiropractor focuses on making adjustments and providing gentle ear massages to correct the existing sensory imbalance.
A chiropractor can help by correcting misalignments in the upper cervical spine through chiropractic manipulations can reposition the neck to its optimal alignment, effectively alleviating dizziness.
If you’re ready to discuss treatment options for vertigo, contact us today and let’s schedule your appointment.