Feeling dizzy or losing your balance can have many causes, some of them serious. The experienced team at the Neuroscience Institute works with other specialists to identify possible causes of vertigo and offer relief. Our team will work quickly to rule out serious conditions and get you necessary care. We can help you get your balance back even if no cause can be found.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is the feeling of dizziness or losing your balance. Dizziness has many possible causes, including inner ear disturbance, motion sickness and medicine side effects. Sometimes it's caused by an underlying health condition, such as poor circulation, infection, injury or a neurological disorder.
Some possible causes of vertigo include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo. It can make you suddenly feel very dizzy for a brief period any time the head has sudden movement. It can happen when you hit your head, roll over in bed or sit up quickly.
- Vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis. A viral infection of the vestibular nerve (located in the inner ear), called vestibular neuritis, can make you feel very dizzy all the time. If you suddenly lose some of your hearing in addition to dizziness, you may have labyrinthitis, an inflammation of the inner ear.
- Meniere's disease. This disease can cause fluid to build up in your inner ear. It can make you feel dizzy for hours at a time. You may also have temporary hearing loss, ringing in the ear and the feeling that an ear is plugged.
- If you get migraines, you may get dizzy spells even when you don’t have a headache. You might feel that way for a few minutes or a few hours.
- Poor blood circulation. This can happen any time blood flow to your brain or inner ear is inadequate.
- Neurological conditions. Some neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis, can affect your sense of balance.
- Medications. Dizziness can be a side effect of anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, blood pressure medicine and other medications.
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If you use insulin, you can get low blood sugar if your insulin dose is too high. You may feel anxious and sweaty in addition to dizzy.
- Postural hypotension. Also called orthostatic hypotension, this condition causes your blood pressure to drop suddenly when you stand up.
How is vertigo diagnosed and treated?
To assess your dizziness and try to find the cause, a member of our team will evaluate you, paying close attention to how you move and control your eyes. You may be asked to move your head or eyes different ways. You may also need tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI scans can help rule out serious conditions that need prompt treatment, such as a stroke or brain stem infection.
The cause of your vertigo will help us create the right treatment plan for you. Even if no cause can be found, we can help prevent vertigo a number of ways. Depending on your needs, we may use:
- Vestibular rehabilitation. This form of physical therapy helps strengthen your vestibular system, which sends signals to your brain when your head and body move. This therapy can help your other senses compensate to prevent dizziness.
- Canalith repositioning maneuvers. These head and neck and movements can help move calcium deposits out of your inner ear canal.
- Medicine. Some medicines can treat symptoms caused by vertigo, such as nausea or motion sickness.
- Antibiotics or steroids. These medicines can treat infection or inflammation.
- Diuretics (water pills). Diuretics can reduce fluid in your inner ear.
- Surgery. Some causes of vertigo may require surgery.
Whatever is causing your vertigo, we’ll work with you to prevent or control it effectively, and ensure that it doesn’t interfere with your life or future.
You’re not alone dealing with vertigo. Here are some resources to help you learn more about your condition and what you can do.