Understanding The Symptoms of Vertigo

You are walking down the hallway when you suddenly have an uncomfortable and unusual feeling of Dizziness. You are so scared out of your wits as you see objects spinning and feel pulled to one side. You lose your balance and crawl your way to the bedroom and climb into the bed. You have never experienced this before in your life and are wondering what is this thing that makes you feel you are in a merry-go-round? Chances are you may be having symptoms of vertigo.

What is vertigo?

Unlike what most people think, vertigo is not an illness or a disease, but a symptom. It is also called "hallucination of motion" where people experiencing vertigo begin to feel whirling and spinning sensations and see blurred motions of still objects.

The term "vertigo" is also used in describing feelings of unsteadiness, lightheadedness, faintness, and dizziness. A subjective vertigo involves sensation of movement whereas an objective vertigo involves the perception of movement in surrounding objects

Causes of vertigo

Vertigo is usually caused by disorders of body parts involved in maintaining balance: inner ear, cerebellum and brain stem, and nerve tracts that connect the cerebellum and brain stem or within the brain stem.

It is most commonly a result of motion sickness, which may develop if your inner ear is sensitive to such motions as swaying or sudden starting and stopping.

Vertigo is also caused by the abnormal accumulation of calcium particles in a semicircular canal found in the inner ear. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) results, is common among older people.

Vertigo may also be caused by the following disorders that affect the inner ear: Meniere’s disease, vestibulocochlear nerve disorders, viral or bacterial infections, Paget’s disease, tumor, and inflammation of nerves.

Vertebrobasilar insufficiency (decreased blood supply through arteries to the brain stem, cerebellum, and back of the brain) may also cause vertigo.

In addition, vertigo may be caused by the following disorders that affect the cerebellum or the brain stem: head injuries, multiple sclerosis, skull fractures, infections, tumors, seizures, and infections.

Any condition that affects the brain can cause vertigo.

  • alcohol
  • epilepsy or exposure (heat stroke, hypothermia)
  • insulin (diabetic emergency)
  • overdose or oxygen deficiency (shortness of breath)
  • uremia (toxins due to kidney failure)
  • trauma (shock or head injury)
  • infection
  • psychosis or poisoning
  • stroke

Symptoms of vertigo

Signs of vertigo as a result of peripheral vestibular disorders include blurred vision, headache, imbalance, motion sickness, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to noise and bright lights, and sweating.

It is also characterized by reduced stamina and fatigue, heart palpitations, inability to concentrate, muscle ache (particularly pain in the back and neck), and reduced cognitive function (memory and thinking).

Vertigo due to central vestibular disorders includes the following symptoms: diplopia (double vision), impaired consciousness, lack of coordination, weakness, and inability to speak because of dysathria or muscle impairment.

Incidence and prevalence

The National Institute of Health (NIH) reported that vertigo is one of the most prevalent health problems among adults in the United States, affecting about 40% of its population who experience vertigo symptoms at some point in their lives.

Many studies have shown that you are at a higher risk of experiencing more frequent attacks of vertigo if you are a woman. It is also slightly higher among older people.