Vertigo can be temporary or long-term. Persistent vertigo has been linked to mental health issues. A psychiatric problem may cause the dizziness, or vertigo may affect a person’s ability to function in daily life, potentially leading to depression or anxiety.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is a sensation of spinning dizziness. It is not, as many people maintain, a fear of heights.
It is often associated with looking down from a great height but can refer to any temporary or ongoing spells of dizziness caused by problems in the inner ear or brain.
Many conditions can cause vertigo.
A person with vertigo will have a sense that their head, or their surrounding environment, is moving or spinning.
Vertigo can be a symptom of other conditions, and it can also have its own set of related symptoms.
- balance problems and lightheadedness
- a sense of motion sickness
- nausea and vomiting
- a feeling of fullness in the ear
Vertigo is not just a general feeling of faintness. It is a rotational dizziness.
Some types of vertigo resolve without treatment, but any underlying problem may need medical attention, for example, a bacterial infection that would likely need antibiotic therapy.
Drugs can relieve some symptoms, for example, and may include antihistamines or anti-emetics to reduce motion sickness and nausea. If you want to buy antihistamines, then there is an excellent selection available online.
Patients with an acute vestibular disorder associated with a middle ear infection may be prescribed steroids, antiviral drugs, or antibiotics.
Nystagmus is an uncontrolled eye movement, usually from side to side. It can happen when a person has vertigo, due to dysfunction of the brain or inner ear.
Sometimes, inner surgery is carried out to treat patients with intractable benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). The surgeon inserts a bone plug into the inner ear to block the area where vertigo is being triggered.
The plug prevents this part of the ear from responding to particle movements inside the semicircular canal of the inner ear or head movements that could lead to vertigo.
Treatment of Ménière’s disease
Prescription drugs, such as meclizine, glycopyrrolate, or lorazepam, can be used to relieve the dizziness experienced with Ménière’s disease.
Other options include:
- restricting salt and taking diuretic therapy to reduce the volume of fluid retained in the body that could build up in the inner ear
- avoiding caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and smoking tobacco
- pressure pulse treatment, in which a device fitted to the outer ear delivers air pressure pulses to the middle ear, reducing vertigo
- surgery to decompress the endolymphatic sac or cutting the vestibular nerve, if nothing else works
Some people have tried acupuncture, acupressure, and herbal supplements such as gingko biloba. However, there is no scientific evidence showing that these are effective.
Patients should discuss any alternative treatments with their doctor before using them.
Anyone who experiences vertigo or other types of dizziness should not drive or use a ladder. It may be a good idea to make adaptations in the home to prevent falls. Getting up slowly may alleviate the problem. People should also take care when looking upward and not make sudden changes in head position.
There are steps an individual can take at home to help resolve vertigo and limit its impact on day-to-day living.
The following steps can help reduce the impact of vertigo:
- Sit down as soon as you feel dizzy.
- If you know a movement normally makes you feel symptoms, do it slowly.
- Use good lighting when getting up at night.
- If vertigo impacts your ability to walk or sense of balance, use a cane to help prevent falls and serious injuries.
There are also herbal solutions that make help to improve symptoms. These include:
- ginkgo biloba
- ginger root
While these may help, it is useful to see a doctor about vertigo and any other symptoms, as many conditions can cause vertigo, and any harmful underlying health issues will need to be treated.