Human balance system is an extremely complex and intricate system probably much more so than other senses. Unlike vision or hearing that the input into this system is gathered from one source, namely eyes or ears, in balance the input comes from a variety of sources. For this reason human balance is capable of suffering major setbacks and usually compensating via the collateral systems. On the other hand slight issue with compiling all these inputs and interpreting them could create severe chronic balance problems.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is a symptom or complaint and not a disorder. It refers to sensation of world moving around the patient or patients feeling that they themselves are moving. It is a rotational movement. All other balance symptoms that are not rotational and create an “off balance” feeling are called disequilibrium. Vertigo and disequilibrium are usually caused by disorders of the inner ear balance system. The most common cause of true vertigo without other neurologic symptoms is benign positional vertigo. Other causes include migrainous vertigo or vertiginous migraines, Meniere’s disease, labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis, acoustic neuromas, or vertebral artery insufficiency.
How can I tell if my “dizziness” is from my inner ears and balance system?
The balance disorders would give you a sense of movement, as in either the world is moving around you or you feel yourself tilting to one side or the other. Other causes of “dizziness” usually cause a sensation of fainting or blacking out. Disorders of inner ears almost never cause blackouts or loss of consciousness. These other causes of dizziness include anxiety as well as cardiovascular issues such as narrowing of the carotid arteries, arrhythmias of the heart, and low blood pressure.
Is vertigo an emergency?
Vertigo is an extremely unpleasant feeling and should be treated symptomatically very soon. It can make patient very nauseated and cause vomiting. In absence of any other otologic (hearing changes or tinnitus) or neurologic (visual changes, numbness and tingling, paralysis), vertigo by itself is usually not a sign of devastating problems such as a stroke. Most commonly it is either benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or a migraine attack presenting with vertigo instead of a headache. He should still seek medical attention for vertigo attacks.