When vertigo hits, it can take you out of commission and make participating in your normal daily activities impossible. Getting out of bed is hard when the world is spinning around you.
These dizzy spells might be temporary or chronic. Regardless of the length of time or severity, it can be smart to talk to an ear, nose, and throat specialist to identify the underlying cause – and find a solution to alleviate the symptoms.
At Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat, we offer full-service ENT care for patients of all ages. Visiting an ENT is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis and find a way to improve your quality of life through treatment.
Vertigo: What You Need to Know
What is vertigo? This condition makes it feel like everything is spinning around you. The sensation is similar to what you feel after spinning in a circle and stopping suddenly. In the moments after spinning, you feel unsteady and disoriented.
If you are spinning in a circle, the dizziness subsides moments after you stop spinning. On the other hand, vertigo causes you to experience ongoing dizziness.
Sometimes, vertigo attacks develop suddenly and unexpectedly. The dizzy spell might pass without a few seconds or last longer.
When vertigo symptoms are severe, it can cause a person to have difficulty standing up because they cannot maintain balance. As a result, even basic, everyday tasks are challenging to complete.
3 Common Causes of Vertigo
It makes sense to visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist if you are experiencing vertigo because the most common causes of this condition are associated with inner ear problems.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
When there is a mechanical problem within the ear known as BPPV, it can cause vertigo symptoms. In fact, this condition is one of the most common causes of vertigo.
There are calcium crystals present in the inner ear. The problem occurs when these crystals break apart and move into the ear canals. When the crystals are in the ear canal, they can cause problems with how fluid moves through the area – which affects how motion signals are sent to the brain.
When a person has BPPV, it often causes intense and sudden dizzy spells. Specific head positions or movements typically trigger these spells.
The good news is that the spells tend to be short-lived. But they are very intense and can cause a lot of distress, making it hard to do anything in that moment.
Another common cause of vertigo is known as Meniere’s Disease. This condition also affects the inner ear, causing hearing and balance issues because fluid is building up in the area of the ear that affects balance.
As the fluid buildup increases, it affects the way receptors can send signals to your brain about how your body is positioned. As a result, symptoms like vertigo can develop.
Even though this condition can affect people of all ages, it’s most common in adults between the ages of 40 – 60. Researchers are still trying to identify the exact cause of Meniere’s Disease. It’s possible it might develop due to allergies, viral infections, blood vessel constrictions, and immune reactions.
Some nerves within the inner ear communicate to the brain about your head position. When a patient has vestibular neuritis, it affects the vestibulocochlear nerve with inflammation, causing a disruption within these nerve signals moving to the brain.
Vestibular neuritis causes a sensation that feels like they are swaying, making it difficult to concentrate on tasks. Additional symptoms can develop, such as vomiting or nausea. Sometimes, the symptoms can stay around for several days before subsiding.
Researchers suspect that this condition might be caused by a viral infection that results in the nerve swelling.
ENT Specialists: Treatment Options for Vertigo
If you have symptoms of vertigo, then one of the best things you can do is schedule a consultation with an experienced ENT. Keep in mind that vertigo is a symptom – not a specific condition. In order for you to find relief, it’s necessary to identify the underlying cause so it can be treated.
The specific treatment plan depends on the underlying condition.
- Meniere’s Disease: If your vertigo is caused by Meniere’s disease, then you might need to limit salt intake so that you can lower fluid volume in the ear.
- Vestibular Neuritis: For vestibular neuritis, specific body posture exercises might help to reduce symptoms.
- BPPV: If you have BPPV, then there are treatments that can encourage the calcium crystals to move back into the right area of the ear.
Treatment options for vertigo are available from local ENT specialists.
Some prescription medications can alleviate associated symptoms such as nausea or dizziness. For example, some doctors prescribe medications often used for motion sickness.
Vertigo medications help to alleviate symptoms. Additionally, certain medications can sometimes shorten a vertigo attack.
If the vertigo symptoms result from a build-up of fluids within the ears, then antihistamines or antibiotics might be helpful to address the congestion or cause of infection.
When inflammation affects the inner ear or nerves, a steroid injection behind the eardrum can be helpful to decrease associated swelling and inflammation, which can positively impact vertigo symptoms.
Another potential treatment option is known as balance rehabilitation, which combines physical therapy and exercises to improve balance. This treatment is sometimes known as vestibular rehabilitation therapy and typically involves exercises and guided head movements to reactivate or retrain the vestibular system.
The ultimate goal of these exercises is to help each patient find better balance when experiencing vertigo. These practices help to minimize the risk of injuries and falls.
Lifestyle and Diet Changes
If vertigo is affected by Meniere’s Disease, then dietary changes can be an effective solution. Your doctor might recommend that you avoid high salt intake and stay away from smoking.
Additionally, drinking more water can be beneficial because you are better hydrated. Another recommendation is to avoid caffeinated drinks since caffeine consumption can cause dehydration.
This treatment aims to change the position of the calcium crystals in the ear canal. Your ENT doctor will walk you through the specific movements.
Then, you should avoid specific movements in the future, such as tilting the head back and forth, bending over, or lying down too quickly. Slowing down your movements can help to reduce the risk of the crystals moving out of place again.
Call an ENT Specialist for Vertigo Help
If you would like to discuss your vertigo treatments with an ENT in Collin County or the Dallas area, then Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat is the team to call with two locations in Frisco and Plano, both in Texas. Access the online form when you need an appointment or call our office at (972) 596-4005.