Are you feeling dizzy? It could be a symptom of vertigo

Vertigo 01 1

I still remember, as a kid, I used to spin around to feel dizziness. That was the time ‘dizziness’ was fun. But now, I am a doctor treating patients for dizziness. When I sit in solitude,(Which I seldom get a chance to do) I just think the same things that used to give us childhood pleasure are the cause of pain in adult life. Hmm…

Nostalgic!

If you can figure more such activities do comment.

firs

As of now, I will discuss with you a type of symptom that adults envy, children enjoy – dizziness-vertigo!!!

To brief you, I am Dr Tapan Shah from Janvi Hospital, and ENT is my area of specialization. People often either ignore vertigo or mistake it with dizziness that’s why I felt like writing in detail about it.

My purpose behind educating you for vertigo is just to let you know that there is a medical condition like this in which you find annoying symptoms that you are shy of expressing before anyone.

Curious to know, right?

I know you are still thinking about childhood spinning activity. So let me clear it first.

What causes dizziness?

I am an ENT specialist so I know in detail about the human ear, but maybe you might not understand if I use technical jargon. Presuming you are holding a glass full of water in your hand and spinning and then you stop suddenly, what will happen?

I heard you say that the water will spill from the glass and fall on the ground.

The same is the case with our ear my friend. Inside our ears, we have hollow spaces filled with fluid. These hollow spaces are lined up with tiny hair cells that contain nerves. Now here is the magic!!

When you move around, the liquid slashes on the hair cells and sends messages to the brain. The liquid inside the ear spins at the same speed with which you are spinning your body. When you stop moving, the liquid keeps moving for a while, confusing your brain. This is the feeling which we as a child enjoy the most – dizziness! 🙂

You might be wondering,

YES! They do! Have you ever seen them do a tricky act soon after the spin? I doubt…. Even when they spin they keep their body stretched to avoid dizziness. They focus their eye on a distant object and soon get control over their body.

Now tell me, assuming that you are a child, what would you do if you feel dizzy after spinning?

Well, you will rest for a while, sit quietly and try to regain balance, isn’t it? EXACTLY!! This is the same thing that adults need to do when they feel that everything around them is spinning. There’s nothing much serious about it. Although, as adults, you need to take care of certain things that I will tell you shortly.

What does Vertigo mean?

Vertigo is a vestibular disorder(sorry for the technical term) in which the vestibular system is affected. This makes us lose balance. It is not a disease, it is a disorder and some medications and exercises help to feel better.

A group of symptoms is noticed first, it then becomes a syndrome. When a syndrome is analyzed by a doctor it becomes a disorder and when the cause of the disorder is known/proved it becomes a disease.

This brings us to the second question.

Trust me it is too difficult for a non-medical person to understand and hence I am summing it up in brief (although I know everything, don’t get it otherwise!!) 🙂

I am not kidding guys. Seriously try it for yourself. When you know so many things about a particular subject, it is really hard to sum it up in few words, especially when you are passionate about it. I am PASSIONATE about my field.

Coming back to the point here are the different types of vertigo (IN BRIEF) 🙂

Peripheral Vertigo

It is the most common type of vertigo – Not a reason to worry. 🙂 The causes for the same can be:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) - When small crystals of calcium move freely into the fluid of your inner ear it causes BPPV. Now please don’t ask me what makes them move. For that, you need to become an ENT Specialist like me.
  • Vestibular neuronitis - It is a form of dizziness that lasts for 2 to 3 weeks, might be due to ongoing viral infection. Well, some of you might be thinking that when doctors can’t think of a cause, they blame it on viral infection. But it just happens!! Whether you trust me or not.
  • Meniere's disease - This one is the GODFATHER of the above two. What I mean is that it is associated with dizziness and hearing loss.
  • Labyrinthitis - It is caused due to viral infection in the inner ear.
  • Perilymph fistula - It can be caused due to sudden jerk or pressure for eg accidental injury or scuba diving
  • Superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome (SSCDS) - It can occur due to the breakdown of the bony part of the canal that carries fluid in the inner ear.

I hope I have not scared you. The real scary picture is yet to begin. This brings me to the second type of vertigo.

Central Vertigo

It can occur due to the following factors and is more dangerous than the previous one.
  • Head injuries
  • Illness or infection
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Migraines
  • Brain tumours
  • Strokes
  • Transient ischemic attacks (They are the "mini" strokes that last for a short time and don't cause permanent damage)

Why I call it more dangerous than peripheral vertigo is because peripheral vertigo lasts for a small-time but central vertigo lasts longer. Perhaps you’ll need help to walk even if you have central vertigo. Central vertigo has a connection with the brain that is why it is more dangerous.

Now you must be thinking about how to diagnose whether you have peripheral vertigo or central vertigo.

Don’t worry, ENT doctors don’t use invasive methods like other specialists. We use tools that you will enjoy. Sounds interesting?

How is vertigo diagnosed?

Reading about a disease is informative, but it is when most people get scared when it comes to diagnosis. As I said earlier we don’t need invasive techniques to check it. We generally rely on what the patient says for eg we ask whether you have the following symptoms and the series of other tests mentioned below.

By looking at the Symptoms of vertigo

When you visit an ENT specialist, we generally ask you whether you are facing the following issues:

  • Dizziness
  • A sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving (vertigo)
  • A loss of balance or unsteadiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

This is the first hint that you probably have vertigo. We prescribe exercises and medicines for it and in most plugin cases, the problem is solved, but if it persists, we need some other tests.

By Electronystagmography (ENG) or Videonystagmography (VNG)

Don’t get scared by these big words. Just like an ECG we use gel and monitor the movements of your eyes. This gives us a hint of the probability of vertigo.

In the case of ENG, we use electrodes whereas in the case of VNG we use cameras. You are asked to wear goggles and we measure your eye movements.
Both processes are not painful.

By Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI’s and CT Scans are our favourite tools because they give us deep insight. I don’t think I need to elaborate more on it.

You might feel curious and argue that all kinds of dizziness that are caused cannot be categorized as vertigo. You are 100% correct.

By checking you physically

In this test, we ask you to lie down and get up immediately and we notice the changes in your eye movements. That can give us an idea about vertigo.

All sorts of dizziness cannot be categorized as vertigo. Only an ENT specialist like me can diagnose whether the dizziness is due to vertigo or any other probable cause. Here are the types of dizziness in brief.

There is a very thin line of demarcation between dizziness and vertigo. Dizziness is a feeling while vertigo is a sensation. Dizziness can make you feel that you are going to fall whereas in vertigo you have a sensation that you along with your surroundings are spinning, although nothing of that sort is happening.

In broad terms, all sorts of dizziness cannot be categorized as vertigo. Dizziness can occur due to:

  • Low BP
  • Low Blood sugar
  • Anaemia
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Motion sickness
  • Head injury
  • Any specific medication

Vertigo on the other hand has other symptoms that I discussed earlier like:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo(BPPV)
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Vestibular neuritis
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Vestibular migraine
  • Cerebellar stroke
  • Head injuries
  • Tumours that affect the central nervous system
  • Tumours that affect the inner ear
  • Certain types of medications
  • Lightheadedness

So now that you know so many things about vertigo and dizziness you might be wondering how we treat it, right? Well, that brings me to my next point that is:

How is vertigo treated?

Normally we just give medications for BPPV and it gets cured within weeks. If that does not help then depending on the complexities of the case, we do:

Canalith repositioning

In this treatment, we move your head to different angles so that the calcium crystals that have moved to your inner ear, move away from it.

You can even do it yourself after some training.

Surgical alternative

If Canalith repositioning does not work, we perform a surgery that helps to prevent wrong signals. What we do is insert a bone plugin in that portion of your ear that is causing dizziness.

But don’t worry it is 90% effective and most of the patients do not need it.

I know, by now, after reading so much you’ll be even able to deliver a lecture on vertigo. But here’s something you all will love.

Guess what?

Home Remedies and care to be taken in case of vertigo.

Based on the intensity and severity of occurrence, we prescribe medicines, exercises etc. Exercises help a lot to get rid of vertigo.

Probably I won’t be able to cover all in this article (because it will be lengthy). For your reference, you may watch a YouTube video.

Tips to prevent vertigo or dizziness

  • Exercises
  • Stay Hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Don’t do self-medication even for a simple headache
  • Increase the quantity of Vitamin D in your diet
  • Meditate and do yoga
  • Handle stress effectively
  • Take proper sleep.

Having said that, you should know when to see a doctor. Generally, you should go to a physician first and later on he/she can guide you to an ENT if required.

When to approach an ENT specialist for dizziness or vertigo?

If you have a ringing in the ears, feel dizzy, or have any of the below symptoms, you should approach the doctor.

  • Fainting
  • Convulsions
  • Slurred speech
  • Fever associated with dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Facial drooping on one side
  • Nausea
  • Pressure or pain in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained sweating
  • Unexplained vomiting

I hope my article has given you some insight into vertigo. After reading this you might feel dizzy, go and breathe fresh air. Always remember it is not a disease just a disorder. So next time you feel dizzy or have a ringing sound in your ears don’t ignore it. Tell it to a doctor.

The best way is to sit for a while if you are feeling dizzy. It helps to avoid any head injury. Also, if you have this disorder it is better to have a helping hand nearby or walk with the help of canes. Take special care when you drive because vertigo can strike at any time and can prove to be dangerous.

About me

Dr. Tapan Shah ENT Doctor Janvi Multispeciality Hospital Vadodara

 I am Dr Tapan Shah (MBBS, DORL) working as an ENT specialist with Janvi hospital. At Janvi hospital, the best ENT hospital in Vadodara,  we provide all the facilities that utilise modern as well as the latest and innovative technology to treat our patients

Due to utmost care and all types of simple as well as complex Skull, Ear, Nose, Throat, and Neck related issues we rank among the best ENT hospitals in Vadodara.

At Janvi hospital, we have an audiology clinic and a qualified therapist too.