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What Is Vertigo? (Symptoms, Causes and Treatments)

We all get a little dizzy from time to time, whether it’s because we stood up too quickly, just stepped off of a merry-go-round, or got a little car sick. Thankfully, the wooziness usually goes away after a few minutes. But if it seems as if the world around you is constantly spinning, it is very likely that an underlying medical condition is to blame—and vertigo is just the debilitating manifestation.

If you want to regain your balance—and your life—and say goodbye to inopportune dizziness and nausea, read on to discover how chiropractic care can treat certain types of vertigo.

What Is Vertigo?

According to Doorland’s Medical Dictionary, vertigo is a type of dizziness associated with the illusion of movement (often a spinning sensation). It’s important to note that dizziness alone doesn’t constitute vertigo. It must be accompanied by the feeling—the misconception—that everything around you is spinning or that you, yourself, are moving.

Vertigo Symptoms

While nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis can trigger vertigo, this dizzy-spinning sensation is most commonly the result of a disorder in your vestibular system. This sensory system, which is a link between your inner ear and your brain, controls your body’s balance and spatial orientation, sending messages from your inner ear to your brain about motion, head position, and the surrounding environment. When your vestibular system is damaged, the connection and communication between your inner ear and your brain is disrupted. This can cause not only dizziness and a spinning sensation, but also other symptoms, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Swaying
  • Imbalance
  • Slurred speech
  • Hearing loss
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Weakness in the arms and legs
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Double vision
  • Jerky eye movements

Severity and duration of these symptoms vary from mild to severe and lasting only a few minutes to being afflicted for a few days.

Types of Vertigo and Causes

Vertigo can be classified as either peripheral or central, depending on which part of your vestibular system is impaired and causing your symptoms. Here is a quick comparison of the two types.

Peripheral Vertigo Central Vertigo
Most common type of vertigo Not as common
Caused by disorders affecting the structures in your inner ear Caused by disorders or injuries affecting the structures of your central nervous system (e.g. brain stem, cerebellum)
Onset is sudden, and symptoms are intermittent and more severe Onset is gradual, and symptoms are constant and milder
Affected by changes in head position and movement Not usually affected by changes in head position or movement
Nausea and vomiting are frequent and severe Nausea and vomiting are less predictable

The most common inner ear problems that cause peripheral vertigo include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): This type of vertigo is triggered by changing position or turning your head a certain way. This movement causes tiny calcium crystals in one part of your ear to move into an area where they shouldn’t be, signaling to your brain that you are moving when you really aren’t. As a result, you can have sudden and intense—but brief—feelings of spinning or swaying, dizziness, and lightheadedness. BPPV is the most common type of peripheral vertigo and, according to Mayo Clinic, affects 30 percent of people over age 65.
  • Labyrinthitis (inner ear infection): Inner ear inflammation can affect your balance and hearing and also cause ear pain, pressure, and nausea.
  • Vestibular neuritis: This disorder, brought on by a viral infection such as measles or chickenpox, affects the nerve that sends sound and balance information from your inner ear to your brain, causing dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and trouble walking.
  • Meniere’s disease: People with this disease not only have vertigo but also hearing loss, ringing or buzzing in their ears, and a feeling that their ear is blocked or filled with fluid—which it very well may be.

The most common causes of central vertigo include:

  • Head or neck trauma: A head or neck injury can disrupt the alignment of your spine or cause whiplash, leaving you feeling dizzy and affecting your sense of balance and ability to concentrate. This is very often caused by a disruption or blockage in blood flow to the inner ear or brain stem.
  • Cervical spondylosis and degeneration: Over time, your vertebrae and neck disks wear and tear, putting pressure on your spinal cord or nerves and blocking the blood flow to your brain and inner ear.
  • Migraine headaches: Vertigo is a common complaint for people with migraines—but it doesn’t need to occur concurrently with the headache. You may experience constant vertigo, positional vertigo, or dizziness, and the symptoms can last anywhere from a few minutes to twenty-four hours.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS): While vertigo may not be intense or debilitating for people with MS, their vertigo can last for hours, days, or even weeks.

You can also experience vertigo has a result of:

  • Motion sickness
  • Changes in air pressure
  • Inhalation or ingestion of toxic substances
  • Ingestion of drugs or alcohol
  • Circulatory problems
  • Brain tumors

All Star Chiropractic Treatments for Dizzyness - Main with a dizzy head

Getting to the root cause of your vertigo is essential to receiving proper treatment and managing your symptoms. The good news: When vertigo is caused by inner ear issues or joints in the neck, chiropractic is very effective for treating vertigo.

Chiropractic Treatment for Vertigo

Because of the neurological connection between vertigo and its causes—between the spine and the rest of the body—chiropractors know the techniques that will help you overcome your dizziness.

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