If you’ve ever experienced vertigo, you know that it’s one sensation you’ll never want to feel again, especially on a regular basis. Vertigo can be quite disorienting — and if persistent, severely interrupt one’s everyday function, causing considerable quality of life issues.
Vertigo is most often associated with the feeling many of us get when looking down from a great height. However, it can be experienced in any environment. Vertigo is the sensation that the environment around you is moving, rocking, or spinning. It’s often accompanied by lightheadedness, dizziness, loss of coordination or balance. If you remember spinning around over and over as a child to make yourself dizzy, then you have a taste of what vertigo can feel like.
Vertigo can last a long time, anywhere from hours to days. It can be caused by inner ear issues, infection, disease, or neurological conditions. Persistent vertigo makes ordinary tasks and daily functioning incredibly difficult, since the person suffering from it has a hard time feeling balanced or on solid footing. Vertigo can cause such discomfort as headache and nausea.
The inner ear specifically has more than one function. Besides transforming vibrations into auditory signals to send to the brain, the inner ear is comprised of semicircular canals that are arranged in such a way to provide your brain information to your body’s position in the surrounding environment. Inner ear illness can affect the efficiency of the inner ear, and cause symptoms like peripheral vertigo.
Issues with the brain or spinal cord can give rise to central vertigo. Usually, central vertigo is peripherally caused, but conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors, and migraine headaches can cause central vertigo.
A hearing healthcare professional can detect vertigo with an ear and hearing evaluation and an assessment of the recent and past medical history of the patient. Certain tests such as the Dix-Hallpike or Roll test can be used in addition to looking for indications of abnormal eye movement to pinpoint causes of vertigo.
Further examination or referral to a medical professional may be necessary to rule out specific peripheral and central causes of persistent vertigo. Once the specific cause is determined, a treatment plan can be implemented that addresses the root cause of vertigo.
While there are well-established causes of vertigo, new types are still being discovered. In a recent study supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea, published in Neurology journal scientists have discovered a type of vertigo that is characterized by eye movements that last longer than normal after induced by horizontal head shaking. The condition is called “recurrent spontaneous vertigo with head-shaking nystagmus”.
Those in the study where this new type of vertigo was identified were given a preventative medication for treatment of their condition. The majority of those with this type of vertigo either experienced improvement or complete recovery from their condition. Research is ongoing, and new findings of the causes and treatments for vertigo continue.
For more information, or if you’re suffering from vertigo, please call today to speak to one of our hearing health professionals.