A person who is experiencing vertigo gets the sensation of their surroundings spinning around them. It is more than just feeling dizzy, as your surroundings seem to be whirling rather than just giving the feeling of being off-balance.
Vertigo often originates in the inner ear, when tiny calcium crystals are shifted out of place and thereby disrupt your sense of balance and your body’s natural reaction to gravity. It can also be caused by neurological impairment. An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor can help determine the cause of your vertigo or balance issues and put you on a treatment that works for you.
What Are the Types of Vertigo?
There are several main types and causes of vertigo, including the following:
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
Perhaps the most common cause of vertigo, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is triggered by sudden changes in your head’s position. For example, turning over to the other side while lying down can trigger BPPV. The condition is caused by loose calcium crystals in the inner ear which are sensitive to gravity.
The episode is usually brief but highly intense, and it may have lingering side effects. BPPV alone is rarely serious, but a BPPV episode can cause falls and accidents. Therefore, seeking treatment is highly recommended.
Since balance control is found in your inner ear (the labyrinth), a viral infection in this area can cause irritation and inflammation – which may cause vertigo and other balance issues. Labyrinthitis is caused by a virus and requires medical treatment.
Symptoms of labyrinthitis include nausea, vomiting, and loss of hearing. The hearing loss may last for several days. Some patients also report tinnitus, which is a ringing in the ears.
A patient may continue to experience balance issues while recovering, but these symptoms should gradually improve. Incidentally, vertigo that is caused by a virus may develop two weeks after the start of the illness.
Vestibular neuritis is inflammation of the vestibulocochlear nerve, which sends signals from the inner ear to the brain regarding head position and balance.
This inflammation may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The symptoms of vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis are similar: vertigo, nausea, vomiting, and hearing loss. Vestibular neuritis with a bacterial origin may be treated using antibiotics.
Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes fluid production, which leads to vertigo and hearing loss. It usually affects just one ear, and it is common in men and women over the age of 20 and under 50. Pressure builds up in the ear due to the excessive fluid, and patients who have it report a feeling of fullness in the ear.
Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition, and it is unclear what causes fluid buildup. Doctors say it may be due to a combination of several factors, such as a viral infection or an abnormal immune response.
ENT Doctors in Georgetown and Greater Austin, TX
Vertigo and other balance disorders can be dangerous. At Georgetown ENT, our doctors provide the highest-quality ear, nose, and throat care for patients with all types of hearing and balance issues related to inner ear disorders. We treat pediatric and adult patients, and we begin your evaluation with a comprehensive hearing exam.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with an ENT, call (512) 869-0604 or fill out our convenient online request form. We look forward to helping you get back into balance!