There Are More Than 10 Vertigo Symptoms: It's Vital To Tell Your Doctor All You're FeelingVertigo may be a sign of a serious underlying illness.by Dahl D. Bennett .
Spinning. Whirling. Feeling off-balance. Dizziness. These are all symptoms associated with vertigo. Healthline describes it as “dizziness that creates the false sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving.”
WebMD defines it as a sensation of feeling off-balance. “If you have these dizzy spells, you might feel like you are spinning or that the world around you is spinning.
Dizziness vs. vertigo
However, it is vital to make a differentiation between dizziness and vertigo. Dizziness is associated with feeling faint or falling, being off-balance, and can lead to actual fainting.
On the other hand, the sensation in vertigo can be more specific, and the most common description used by those who have experienced it is spinning or “as if your surroundings are moving.” Other words used to describe the feeling include tilting, swaying, and pulling in one direction.
Both dizziness and vertigo, however, share that familiar feeling of being off-balanced. It is also important to note that vertigo is a type of dizziness.
Two types of vertigo
There are two types of vertigo. The more common type is called peripheral, which is caused by a problem in the inner ear or the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear and the brain.
The other type is called central vertigo, which “happens when there’s a glitch in the brain, particularly in an area of the brain called the cerebellum.”
It is important to note that while some may experience vertigo as a one-time episode, the repeated occurrence may be a sign of an underlying disease, and this may need a doctor’s attention.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Vertigo symptoms to watch out for
The common causes of peripheral vertigo are the following (these are all associated with problems of the inner ear):
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- vestibular neuronitis
- herpes zoster oticus
- Meniere’s disease
On the other hand, strokes, heart attacks, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and tumors are related to central vertigo. These are usually more severe diseases that affect the cerebellum or the back of the brain.
The symptoms specific to both types will help doctors determine treatment of the kind of vertigo one has.
The duration and length of vertigo may also give doctors a lead on the underlying causes of vertigo. BBPV, for example, may last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Vertigo caused by an ischemic attack can last from several minutes to an hour, while vertigo that stems from multiple sclerosis can last for days.
Here WebMD gives some distinction — and similarities — between the symptoms of peripheral and central vertigo:
- Vomiting, which may be severe
- Signs of infection inside the ear
- A feeling of ‘fullness’ in the ear
- Ringing in the ear, which is associated with labyrinthitis and Meniere’s disease
- Loss of hearing
- Vertigo starts without warning and stops just as quickly
- Eyes that move without your control
- Eye movement may go away when vision is focused on a fixed point
- Vertigo fades after a few days
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- Difficulty swallowing
- Nausea and vomiting but less severe
- Often comes without warning and may last for long periods
- Episodes are generally much more intense than peripheral
- Inability to stand or walk without help
- Eye movement that can’t be controlled just like peripheral vertigo
- Eye movement that may last weeks to months during a vertigo episode (which is not common in peripheral vertigo)
- Eye movement that does not go away when you’re asked to focus on a fixed point
- Depending on the underlying cause, other symptoms for central vertigo may also include double vision, slurred speech, and facial paralysis.
Questions doctors will likely ask if vertigo is suspected
There are several questions doctors may ask and tests that may need to be done to fully ensure that (1) a patient is experiencing vertigo symptoms and not dizziness and (2) get to the root of what’s causing it. Among these are:
You may be asked when and how often your episodes occur.
Age and gender
While vertigo may happen to anyone at any age, it is more common among people 55 or above and among women more than men.
Does it happen when you change your head position? When you listen to loud noises? When are you under stress?
Each time you get vertigo, is it accompanied by: hearing loss, aural visions, facial weakness, nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, pain, etc.?
Again, depending on the vertigo symptoms, tests such as MRI or CT scans may be performed to give doctors a more conclusive diagnosis.