Vertigo is the sensation that the environment around you is spinning. Though many people refer to it as a condition, the truth is that it is a symptom of another underlying condition. Vertigo can be disconcerting, as it can make you feel dizzy and off balance. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, vertigo may make it difficult for you to complete daily tasks.
If you live with vertigo, you may wish to learn more about the condition. Here you can find out everything from why it occurs to how long it lasts to what you can do to achieve relief both on your own and with medical help.
Common Causes of Vertigo
One thing that many people who live with vertigo want to know is, why does it happen? Is it hereditary?
Vertigo is not hereditary, but several conditions that are hereditary can trigger it, such as the following:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
- Vestibular neuronitis
- Meniere’s disease
Vertigo can have numerous other causes. Among others, those include migraines, stroke, diabetes, head injuries, shingles near or on the ear, ear surgery, arrhythmia, prolonged bed rest, hyperventilation, ataxia, low blood pressure and syphilis. Certain medications can also trigger vertigo.
The Two Types of Vertigo
There are two types of vertigo: central vertigo and peripheral vertigo. Knowing the differences between the types and which you have can inform you as to the severity of the underlying condition. For instance, peripheral vertigo is the result of a problem within the ear. Central vertigo, however, may be indicative of a brain tumor, infection, traumatic brain injury or impending stroke.
The Length of Vertigo Attacks
In most cases, vertigo attacks last for just a few seconds to a few minutes. However, some people experience vertigo for days, weeks or even months. The length of an attack is often indicative of the severity of the underlying cause.
Signs You Have Vertigo
Many people experience vertigo but chalk it up to bouts of dizziness. If you ever feel dizzy or off-center, you may want to familiarize yourself with the signs of vertigo, as you may be living with an untreated medical condition:
- Feelings of being motion sick
- Rocking feeling
- Tilting feeling
If you experience any of these sensations — particularly when you walk or change positions — there is a strong likelihood that what you are experiencing is vertigo.
Vertigo Is Not a Fear of Heights
It is a long-standing myth that vertigo occurs at heightened elevations and in people who live with a fear of heights. The scientific term for a fear of heights is “acrophobia.” Acrophobia is characterized by dizziness, but said dizziness is triggered when a person looks down from a high place.
How To Get Relief From Vertigo
Depending on the underlying cause, you may be able to achieve relief with a bit of self-care. Some steps you can take are as follows:
- Sit or stand slowly
- Engage in simple exercises
- Avoid bending to pick up items
- Avoid extending your neck
- Sleep with your head in a raised position
- Avoid exercises that trigger your symptoms
- Avoid moving your head quickly
If these simple self-care tricks don’t work, try herbal remedies, such as cayenne, ginger, turmeric and Ginkgo biloba. If the condition still does not resolve, talk to your doctor, who may prescribe an antibiotic to treat an infection or a medication to treat an underlying condition. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to relieve the symptoms of motion sickness.
Vertigo can be a disconcerting feeling. If you live with it, consult with your doctor about ruling out any underlying conditions.