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Vertigo: Understanding the Symptoms and Treatments

March 26, 2023
Vertigo: Understanding the Symptoms and Treatments

Vertigo is an overwhelming sensation of dizziness that can leave you feeling as though the world is spinning around you. It can be a disorientating and sometimes frightening experience, but with the right knowledge and understanding, it can be managed and treated effectively. In this article, we will delve deep into the world of vertigo, exploring the symptoms, causes, and treatments available to regain control over your life. So, buckle up and let's embark on this exciting journey towards a clearer understanding of vertigo!

The Science Behind Vertigo

Anatomy of the Inner Ear

Vertigo is typically a result of a disturbance in the inner ear, which is a crucial component of our balance system. The inner ear is composed of three semicircular canals filled with fluid, known as endolymph. These canals detect rotational movements and are responsible for sending signals to the brain regarding our head's position and movement.

The Vestibular System

The vestibular system, which includes the inner ear and certain parts of the brain, is responsible for maintaining our balance and spatial orientation. Vertigo occurs when there is a mismatch between the signals from our vestibular system, visual system, and proprioceptive system (our body's sense of its position in space). This mismatch can lead to a sensation of spinning or falling, which is experienced as vertigo.

Common Symptoms of Vertigo

person feeling sick

The Spinning Sensation

The primary symptom of vertigo is a feeling that you, or your surroundings, are spinning or moving when you are actually stationary. This sensation can be brief, lasting for only a few seconds, or it can persist for a more extended period, depending on the underlying cause.

Nausea and Vomiting

Along with the spinning sensation, vertigo often causes nausea and vomiting. This is a natural response from the body as it tries to cope with the disorienting sensation of the world spinning around you. The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person.

Common Causes of Vertigo

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo and is characterized by short episodes of dizziness triggered by specific head movements. BPPV occurs when tiny calcium crystals, called otoconia, become dislodged from their usual position within the inner ear and migrate into the semicircular canals, causing disruptions in the normal flow of endolymph.

Meniere's Disease

Meniere's disease is an inner ear disorder that can cause recurrent episodes of vertigo, along with hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The exact cause of Meniere's disease is unknown, but it is believed to be related to abnormal fluid accumulation within the inner ear.

Diagnosing Vertigo

Medical History and Physical Examination

The first step in diagnosing vertigo is a thorough medical history and physical examination. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, their duration, and any potential triggers. They will also assess your balance, coordination, and check for signs of any neurological issues that could be contributing to your vertigo.

Diagnostic Tests

In some cases, your doctor may order additional tests to help pinpoint the cause of your vertigo. These tests may include hearing tests, blood tests, or imaging studies such as an MRI or CT scan. In specific cases, a specialized test called a videonystagmography (VNG) may be performed to assess the function of your inner ear and vestibular system.

Treating Vertigo: The Non-Pharmacological Approach

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)

VRT is a specialized form of physical therapy designed to help improve balance and reduce dizziness-related problems. VRT involves a series of exercises aimed at retraining the brain to adapt to the altered signals from the vestibular system. These exercises may include gaze stabilization, habituation, and balance training.

Canalith Repositioning Procedure (CRP)

For cases of BPPV, the Canalith Repositioning Procedure, also known as the Epley Maneuver, can be highly effective. This non-invasive treatment involves a series of head movements guided by a trained healthcare professional to help move the displaced calcium crystals back into their correct location within the inner ear.

Treating Vertigo: The Pharmacological Approach

Anti-Vertigo Medications

Depending on the cause of vertigo, your doctor may prescribe medications to help manage symptoms. These medications may include antihistamines, anticholinergics, or benzodiazepines. It's important to note that these medications are typically prescribed for short-term use, as they can have side effects and may not address the underlying cause of vertigo.

Diuretics and Steroids

For individuals with Meniere's disease, a diuretic medication may be prescribed to help reduce fluid retention in the inner ear. In some cases, steroid injections may also be administered to help control inflammation and reduce symptoms.

Alternative and Complementary Treatments


Some individuals with vertigo have reported improvement in their symptoms following acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice, involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy, known as Qi, and promote healing.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies, such as ginkgo biloba, ginger, and vinpocetine, have been suggested as potential treatments for vertigo. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any herbal supplement, as they can interact with other medications and have potential side effects.

Prevention and Lifestyle Changes

drink plenty of water

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can contribute to dizziness and vertigo symptoms. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, which can cause dehydration.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Poor sleep can exacerbate vertigo symptoms. Establish a regular sleep schedule, create a comfortable sleep environment, and avoid stimulating activities before bedtime to improve sleep quality.

Coping with Vertigo

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation, can help reduce anxiety and stress associated with vertigo symptoms. These practices can also help to improve your overall sense of well-being.

Safety Precautions

When experiencing vertigo, it's essential to take safety precautions to avoid falls or accidents. Make sure to hold onto sturdy objects when moving around and sit down if you begin to feel dizzy. It may also be helpful to use a cane or walker for additional support.


Vertigo can be a challenging and disorienting experience, but with a proper understanding of the symptoms, causes, and treatments, it can be managed effectively. By seeking appropriate medical care, exploring various treatment options, and making necessary lifestyle changes, you can regain control over your life and reduce the impact of vertigo on your day-to-day activities. Remember, knowledge is power, and by staying informed and proactive in your approach to vertigo, you can ultimately conquer this spinning sensation!

* All the information and content in this blog post are intended for informational purposes only. It should not be a substitute for professional or medical advice. You should always speak with a licensed professional before you follow anything you read in this blog post.

The information is provided by By Hilda Wong. While we try to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the post for any purpose.

Dr. Hilda Wong, MD

My name is Dr. Hilda Wong, MD, graduated from Avalon University School of Medicine. I have over 5 years of medical externship experience and a published researcher on PubMed. I'm also a health and nutrition enthusiast and have written several blogs and magazines in these areas. Forgot to mention that I own a Toy Australian Shepherd and a Betta Fish, and have an amazing zest for life, fashion, health, nutrition, and pets.

Dr. Hilda Wong, MD