What Are the Symptoms of Vertigo?
Vertigo is a complex sensation to describe. The symptoms of vertigo are numerous. It’s all about the perception of movement, and it feels as if everything is going round and round inside our head. The word comes from Latin, where ‘vertere‘ means to turn.
Both vertigo and dizziness are two of the most frequent reasons for seeing a GP. In fact, it’s estimated that around 40% of people over 40 go to the doctors for this reason.
The sensation usually relates to an alteration in the balance system. This system is called the vestibular system and is located in the inner part of the ear. The disorders associated with this organ are very common and can appear at any age.
Therefore, in this article we’re going to explain everything you need to know about vertigo and which symptoms usually accompany it. It’s important to know these symptoms because it’s a difficult sensation to describe and diagnose.
What is vertigo?
The inner ear contains the vestibular system, which is what allows humans to maintain balance. Furthermore, it’s also responsible for us being aware of our posture and correctly adapting to the space around us.
Most cases of vertigo are usually caused by an alteration to this system. It involves perceiving a sensation of movement, of ourselves or our surroundings, without anything really moving. Some people experience it as “a fall into the void.”
It’s a disorder that can affect anyone at any age. However, as we’ve already mentioned, once you hit 40 it becomes much more common. Vertigo can be classified into different types:
- Peripheral vertigo: The alteration of the vestibular system produces this. It’s the most frequent type and usually lesions in the ear cause this. Therefore, it’s common for these people to also have hearing loss.
- Central vertigo: what happens here is that the nerve circuits that carry information from the ear and interpret it are damaged. This interpretation takes place in the brain stem.
- Positional: this appears in the form of short episodes. It’s a response to head position changes and is usually benign.
- Cervical: this is produced by an alteration in the cervical vertebrae.
There are so many types of vertigo because the function of balance and posture follows a complex nervous circuit in which many parts of the body are involved. However, all types produce the same complex sensation of movement.
You might be interested in: Cervicogenic Dizziness: Causes and Remedies
What other symptoms accompany vertigo?
As well as perceiving that everything around is spinning, there are a number of other symptoms that usually accompany vertigo. For example, nausea and vomiting are very common. Similarly, people who suffer from it usually lose their balance and fall.
Depending on the type of vertigo, some symptoms are more frequent than others. In the case of peripheral vertigo, there’s usually a decrease in hearing ability, as we’ve mentioned. You can also hear a constant ringing in your ears.
In other cases of vertigo, vision can also be altered. Many people see double or can’t focus properly. There are even some people who lose the ability to speak correctly.
On the other hand, vertigo can be accompanied by paralysis in the face muscles or a feeling of fatigue and weakness in the legs. People who suffer from it usually feel anxiety and anguish, because the fact of walking or moving can become noticeably difficult.
It’s important to highlight that, although most cases of vertigo occur in the form of short episodes, they can last for days. Furthermore, it can happen to both children and adults.
Don’t forget to read: What’s Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo?
How to diagnose and treat this problem
In order to diagnose vertigo, the most important thing is to clearly explain to the doctor how the sensation feels. It’s also necessary to describe the rest of the symptoms that appear.
Normally, the otolaryngologist is the one in charge of performing the exploration of the ear and the rest of the balance system. Depending on the cause of the vertigo, the treatment will be different. In order to treat it, there are medications and even surgery. However, each individual case is different.
Ideally, when you get the sensation of vertigo you should go to the doctor. You should also go if you show any of the accompanying symptoms that we have mentioned. It’s a complex disorder that can have various causes, so it’s necessary to study it well.