About This Condition
Vertigo is a sensation of irregular or whirling motion, either of oneself or of external objects.
The word is sometimes incorrectly used as a general term to describe dizziness. The most common form of vertigo is benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV), in which brief attacks are brought on by certain changes in head position.1 BPPV may be due to a previous head injury, viral infection, and certain drug therapies, although in about half the cases the cause is unknown.2,3 BPPV tends to resolve without treatment within weeks to months, but may persist for years in some cases.1,3
People experiencing vertigo should have a complete medical evaluation to determine the cause. Common causes of non-BPPV vertigo include conditions in which there is decreased blood flow to certain areas of the brain, Ménière’s disease, and infection of the inner ear.2,7 Vertigo may also be a symptom of numerous other conditions,7,2,3 including sinusitis, panic attacks, migraine headaches, and problems with metabolism,11,12 such as hypothyroidism, high blood triglycerides, diabetes, and hypoglycemia.
People with vertigo may have sudden sensations of spinning or whirling motion that may be accompanied by lightheadedness and loss of balance, and less often by sweating, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.7,8
Healthcare practitioners recommend getting fresh air, lying down, closing the eyes, and alcohol avoidance. People frequently affected by severe, disabling vertigo may require a surgical treatment, such as vestibular neurectomy or labyrinthectomy. These procedures involve surgical removal of either the nerves or labyrinthine structures that control balance and position senses.