Vertigo is a broad term used to describe an abnormal sensation of motion. Typically this is described as a “spinning” sensation and is a specific type of dizziness. Despite “vertigo” often being offered as a diagnosis, this is actually only a symptom and is an indicator of a wide variety of diagnoses. A thorough evaluation by an ENT doctor including a comprehensive audiogram (hearing test) can help determine the specific cause of your vertigo symptoms. Once a cause is determined, an appropriate treatment strategy can be established. Some of the more common causes we see at Peak ENT include:
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) – This condition typically causes intense vertigo symptoms that come on suddenly due to a change in position such as rolling over in bed, sitting up, or looking up and to the side. The vertigo lasts seconds, but recurs frequently and can be quite scary and disruptive. It is not at all uncommon for patients with BPPV to end up in an ER thinking they are having a stroke! Despite this, the condition can often be cured in one or two visits to the ENT doctor.
Vestibular Neuritis/Labyrinthitis – Typically a viral infection causes inflammation of the balance nerve and/or inner ear on one side. This results in severe vertigo that can last up to a few days, followed by a period of recovery that can take weeks.
Meniere’s Disease – an inner ear disorder that causes episodic vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, and tinnitus (ringing/buzzing), as well as a sensation of fullness in the ear. This is a chronic condition that usually affects one ear, however may affect both eventually. Medical and surgical treatments are available to help manage this condition.
Migraine – Not widely recognized as a cause of vertigo, migraine is actually quite common. When this diagnosis is made, it can usually be managed by identifying and modifying various lifestyle triggers for migraine, as well as treatment with prophylactic migraine medications in appropriate patients.