What does vertigo really mean

Vertigo specifically refers to the sensation of the room rotating around you. It is not to be confused with other general symptoms of dizziness that could be relating to sensation of nausea, lack of focus, headaches, or general wobbliness of the surrounding areas.

Vertigo may have various different presentations. Some people may experience vertigo specifically from certain positioning of the head or the body that triggers the onset of the symptoms, while some people may have it occur spontaneously. In some cases, the symptoms may last a few seconds, in other instances it may last few hours to a few days.

In general, symptoms of vertigo are believed to be from diseases of the inner ear (vestibule). Conversely, symptoms of dizziness that do not include a true sensation of room rolling around you are believed not necessarily to be from the inner ear. One of the more common reasons for people to have vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Most people in this situation experience the onset of the vertigo from rolling around in the certain direction, or from certain motions. The symptoms generally last less than one minute, and they are repeatable every time the patient engages in the same type of activity. The baseline reasoning for this kind of dizziness is due to crystal formation in the inner ear where the inner ear liquid chambers would be normally responding to positional changes of the body. A consultation with your ENT specialist and performing of the Epley maneuver can remedy the situation in the majority of the patients. A second reason for people to have vertigo is an entity called labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis. This usually refers to viral infection of the inner ear or the nerve communicating from the inner ear to the brain. Most people describe acute symptoms of vertigo that last hours to days, and they are generally completely debilitated from engaging in normal activities. This is usually a self-limiting process, and most patients get better with a few days of bed rest. Additional anti-dizziness medicines as well as antiviral antibiotics could be used to make the recovery faster.

Sometimes, when a specific reason for the patient’s symptoms of dizziness is not able to be confirmed by physical examination or additional testing, vertigo is used as a diagnosis name. However, be aware that vertigo is not the name of a disease; it is name of a symptom.

The patients with vertigo are best served by getting immediate attention from a specialist. This could be from your ear, nose, and throat specialist, or from a neurologist. Additional testing may become necessary to make a correct diagnosis.

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