Vertigo is a form of dizziness that creates a false sense that you or your surroundings are moving or spinning. While disturbing, this sensation rarely signals a life-threatening condition. That said, it can have a significant impact on daily life, rendering some people incapable of functioning normally.
There are a number of different things that can cause vertigo, including motion sickness, inner ear disturbance, poor circulation, injury and medication effects. Because your sense of balance depends on your eyes, sensory nerves and inner ear; anything that impacts just one of these facets can cause vertigo. When a physician sees a patient suffering from vertigo, he or she will consider all of the following as potential causes:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Meniere’s disease
- Drop in blood pressure
- Poor blood circulation
- Low iron levels (anemia)
- Anxiety disorders
- Neurological conditions
- Overheating and dehydration
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Obviously, treatment will depend on the specific cause of the vertigo. Many times, physicians prescribe anti-nausea medications, anti-anxiety medications, antihistamines and other pharmaceuticals, which help to reduce symptoms. Head position maneuvers, balance therapy and psychotherapy may also be needed to address long-term issues.
If an underlying condition is causing your vertigo, your doctor may need to run a series of diagnostic tests to determine the most effective way to address your condition. In rare cases, patients may require inner-ear surgery or injections to reduce or eliminate symptoms.
When to Seek Help
While usually not serious, vertigo can increase a person’s risk of falling. It can also be especially dangerous when attacks occur while a person is driving. Likewise, because vertigo greatly impacts a person’s quality of life, it’s important to seek an evaluation if you suffer lingering symptoms. Your doctor can prescribe medications to reduce unpleasant sensations and get you back on the path toward feeling better.