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In-Depth with Vertigo


Vertigo is one of the most common health problems in adults. It’s not an actual disease; instead, it describes dizziness—the feeling that you or your surroundings are spinning, when in fact, nothing is moving at all.

Many people first experience this dizziness when they get out of bed in the morning. They were fine the night before, and then bang, they get out of bed, lose their balance and fall. Or if they don’t fall, they may feel as if they have to lean against the wall or a piece of furniture to keep themselves upright.

When you have vertigo, it can feel as if the floor is rising up under you, making you pitch forward. It can be terrifying. And it makes you realize how dependent you are on your sense of balance, which you may never have appreciated before.

Your ability to balance depends on interaction among your eyes, nervous system and inner ears. When something about this system gets out of synch, vertigo can be the result.


Symptoms of vertigo

Besides the sense of spinning and lack of balance, other symptoms of vertigo include

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Blurry vision after you move your head quickly
  • Lightheadedness

Most cases of vertigo not serious health problem


A problem in the inner ear, also called the vestibular system, is the most common cause of vertigo. Common problems affecting the inner ear include

        Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)—brief episodes of dizziness when you change the position of your head. It commonly happens when you change your position in bed or when you sit up in the morning. This occurs when particles break loose and fall into the canals of your inner ear. Doctors don’t know what causes this.

        Inflammation of the inner ear—can cause extremely strong feeling of dizziness that may require bed rest. This usually clears up quickly on its own. Some experts believe it’s caused by a viral infection.

        Menière’s disease—a buildup of fluid in your ear. Besides dizziness, you may also experience the sense that your ear is full, ringing or buzzing in your ears


        Non-cancerous growth on the acoustic nerve


How is vertigo treated?


Doctors treat vertigo differently, depending on the cause of the dizziness. In some cases of BPPV, simple repositioning of the head may help particles to move to an area where they won’t cause dizziness. For inner ear inflammation, you may learn balance exercises from a physical therapist, and then you can practice the exercises at home. If Meunière’s disease is the problem, the focus is on reducing the way your body retains fluid. For migraine, your doctor may help you to identify and then avoid your migraine triggers, or prescribe medication for the migraine.

Sometimes doctors aren’t able to determine the exact cause of the vertigo. But typically, they’re able to prescribe medication that can reduce the symptoms.

If you wake up with vertigo, be sure to visit your doctor. Even though most cases aren’t serious, it’s important to find the cause and get treatment.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
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