Have you experienced feeling completely fine and then you suddenly feel like the room is spinning? Do you get random episodes of dizziness to the point that it makes it difficult for you to stand or sit upright? This could be a very alarming sensation of vertigo.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is a feeling of dizziness or spinning, which can be caused by many different factors. Interestingly, many people are surprised to know that the organ of hearing is also responsible for our balance. Therefore, there are several medical conditions that can result in both vertigo and hearing loss.
Vertigo is usually caused by a problem in the ear, but can also stem from problems related to vision or proprioception (the sense that perceives the location, movement, and action of parts of the body).
It’s important that you see your doctor if vertigo episodes occur more often than every six months because it could indicate an underlying health issue like Ménière’s disease or vestibular neuronitis.
Connection of vertigo to hearing disorders
The vestibular system is located in the inner ear. The vestibular system is responsible for the body’s balancing mechanisms. When there is a problem with the inner ear, there is a possibility that the vestibular system could also be affected.
What causes vertigo?
Causes of Vertigo
Vertigo is often caused by an inner ear problem.
Meniere’s disease – This is an inner ear disorder thought to be caused by a buildup of fluid and changing pressure in the ear. It can cause episodes of vertigo along with ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and/or hearing loss.
BPPV – Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo occurs when particles called otoconia collect in the inner ear. These tiny particles serve to maintain balance, but if they become displaced in the inner ear, mixed signals are sent to the brain. The end result is the sensation of vertigo until the otoconia are repositioned in the appropriate place.
Bilateral hearing loss – Hearing Loss may interfere with normal balance function and can be a factor in the development of acute episodes of severe dizziness.
Vestibular Migraine – Migraines can also be accompanied by dizziness, which is known as migraine-associated vestibular dysfunction (MAVD).
Earwax – Vertigo can also be triggered by earwax pushing against the eardrum or tympanic membrane. This can cause nausea and a sensation of moving even when one is in a stationary state.
What are the symptoms of dizziness to look out for?
Vertigo can result from many factors, including inner ear disorders to sudden changes in head position.
People with vertigo often describe it as a feeling of:
Other symptoms that may manifest during vertigo episodes include:
Feeling extremely nauseated
Abnormal or jerking eye movements (nystagmus)
Headache or migraines
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Treatment for Vertigo
Treatment options for vertigo greatly depend on the root cause.
In some cases, vertigo goes away on its own. The logic behind this phenomenon is that the brain is able to compensate gradually for inner ear changes, relying on other existing mechanisms to maintain balance.
However, this does not mean that vertigo can be taken mildly. There are some extreme cases of vertigo that are life-threatening. Due to the unpredictable nature of vertigo, there can be extreme consequences if it occurs while crossing the street, driving, or going up the stairs.
Vertigo should not be ignored and should be referred to a medical professional for proper assessment.
Below are some treatments for vertigo:
Vestibular rehabilitation. This is a type of therapy to strengthen the vestibular system, which helps send signals to the brain about head and body movements. Vestibular rehabilitation may be recommended if you have recurring bouts of vertigo. It helps train your other senses in order to compensate for the dizziness that accompanies a vertigo attack.
Anti-vertigo meds. Medication may be given to relieve symptoms like nausea and motion sickness that accompany vertigo.
Epley maneuver: If vertigo stems from BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), the Epley maneuver (consisting of a series of therapeutic head movements) may be a viable treatment option.
Audiologists and Hearing Tests in Swampscott and Peabody, MA
If you suspect that you are experiencing signs of vertigo or hearing loss, seek professional help right away.
While we do not provide testing for vertigo in our office, the audiologists at Atlantic Hearing Care can help you determine if a balance assessment is needed and help facilitate a referral for patients needing balance testing and treatment.
If you need to get a hearing test or are looking for an audiologist who can expertly assess your hearing, contact us at Atlantic Hearing Care.
Our clinics are located in Swampscott and Peabody. We look forward to seeing you in our clinic!