Vertigo is a symptom, not a condition. It is the feeling that you or the things in your environment are spinning or moving. It is a false sense of motion. You may barely notice vertigo or it may be so severe that you must lie down until the sensation passes. You may find it hard to perform everyday tasks and keep your balance. Attacks can come about suddenly and last for anywhere from a few seconds to a few days. This can make completing your everyday routine a real challenge.
The symptoms that often accompany vertigo are:
- Loss of balance
- Nausea or vomiting
The most common cause of vertigo has to do with the way the inner ear works to keep balance. However, this can also be caused by a problem in certain parts of the brain. Causes may include:
- Vestibular Neuronitis
- BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo)
Two Types of Vertigo
There are two different types of vertigo and they are put into these categories depending on their cause: peripheral and central.
Peripheral vertigo: The most common type of vertigo, it has to do with a malfunction of the balance mechanisms of the inner ear. The reasons can be:
- Head or neck injury: Vertigo can be quite common for this type of injury. If so, it is a good idea to seek medical attention.
- Vestibular Neuronitis: An inner ear condition that causes the nerve connecting the labyrinth to the brain or the labyrinth itself to become inflamed. It is usually caused by a virus and comes on suddenly. It may be accompanied by unsteadiness, nausea, and vomiting. Hearing problems are not usually a symptom. It may only last a few hours or days but can take weeks to settle completely.
- Meniere’s disease: A rare condition of the inner ear that causes vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, and a feeling of congestion or fullness of the inner ear.
- Head injury: Symptoms of dizziness and vertigo may follow a head injury. If so, seek medical attention immediately.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo – BPPV: A common cause of vertigo. It is related to specific movements of the head and is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, but vomiting is rare. Nystagmus (rapid eye movements) may be present. You may notice vertigo attacks occur when rolling over in bed, standing up quickly, or bending over. Lightheadedness and loss of balance can continue for several minutes to several hours after the attack. This condition is thought to be caused by the misplacement of crystals contained within the inner ear. If these crystals break off and move into the fluid-filled canals of the ear, they can do much damage. These fragments sit at the bottom of the canal and certain head movements cause them to be swept along in these canals. This results in mixed messages being sent to the brain, leading to vertigo. Those over age 50 are most likely to experience this condition.
- Certain medications: Vertigo is often a side effect of some medications. Consult the leaflet that came with the prescription if you are having vertigo spells.
- Labyrinthitis: An inner ear infection that causes the labyrinth, a structure deep in the ear, to become inflamed. The labyrinth is a maze of fluid-filled channels that control hearing and balance. If it is inflamed, the information sent from it to your brain will not match that of the information being sent from your ears and your eyes. This causes vertigo. Labyrinthitis is usually brought about by a virus (the common cold or the flu) or a bacterial infection. You may experience nausea and vomiting, tinnitus, hearing loss, fever, and ear pain.
Central Vertigo: This is due to problems in certain areas of the brain (the cerebellum or the brainstem) and may be a symptom of:
- Multiple sclerosis: A condition affecting the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord)
- A brain tumor: Located near the lower part of the brain — the cerebellum
- Certain medications
- Acoustic neuroma: A rare, benign brain tumor located on the acoustic nerve which is responsible for controlling balance and hearing
- Migraines: A neurological condition known for severe and throbbing head pain, sensitivity to light, sound, and odors, and nausea and vomiting along with vertigo.
- TIA (transient ischaemic attack) or stroke: Part of the blood supply to the brain is cut off
Making the Spinning of Vertigo Cease
You may be wondering if there is anything that can make the uneasy feelings of vertigo ease up. A case study observed 60 vertigo patients. Out of these, 56 recalled having some sort of trauma occur before the onset of vertigo. The trauma consisted of car accidents, sports-related injuries, and trips and falls. All of the 60 were found to have a misalignment in their upper neck area and were given an adjustment by an upper cervical chiropractor. All 60 reported seeing improvement in their symptoms within a 6-month period, some seeing results after just one month. And, 48 of the patients had their vertigo go away completely.
Vertigo Treatment Kelowna BC
The NUCCA Chiropractic approach differs from traditional chiropractic in the fact that we are not required to use force, such as popping the neck or cracking the back, to get the desired results. An experienced and skilled chiropractor based in Kelowna, British Columbia, we use methods that are gentle and natural, allowing the bones to move back into place more naturally and stay in place longer.
The reason this type of chiropractic helps with vertigo has to do with the brainstem. The C1 and C2 vertebrae are positioned so as to act as a protection for the brainstem. If some type of trauma or even a mild blow to the head or neck causes them to misalign, they put stress on the brainstem. This causes the brainstem to send the wrong signals to the brain about the body’s location. If these signals do not match the signals being sent from the eyes and ears, the brain gets confused and vertigo ensues. Once the misalignment is corrected, the body can begin healing the damage done and vertigo may ease up or go away entirely.