10 Vertigo Facts You May Not Know and Where to Find Relief

facts about vertigo attacks and dizziness

Vertigo attacks and dizziness are two different things. Sometimes people mistake the term dizziness as a broad term to mean vertigo, disequilibrium, and dizziness itself. These three things are all different, and it is important to understand their differences. We are going to talk about some interesting facts about vertigo and dizziness.

Almost 40 percent of people over the age of 40 have at least one episode of dizziness. Certain medications, in particular, those taken for blood pressure, can cause dizziness. Most of the time, dizziness is harmless but there are times when it can mean something more serious like a heart problem.

Dizziness is extremely common in adults. Vertigo also is quite common. Vertigo is the feeling that you or the room around you is spinning while there is actually no movement. So, what is the difference between these two conditions? The main way to know whether it is dizziness or vertigo is whether or not you have nausea and vomiting.

This occurs with vertigo attacks and is related to a serious balance disorder. Dizziness makes you feel momentarily off balance and can range in severity from mild to seriously disabling.

Here are some interesting facts about dizziness and vertigo:

#1. Vertigo attacks can be related to an inner ear problem

This type of vertigo is referred to as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Your inner ear contains calcium and protein-based sensing crystals called otoconia. If something causes these crystals to dislodge and float into the canals of the inner ear, you may experience brief vertigo attacks.

It is a mechanical problem that can be corrected through physical therapy instead of medication or surgery. BPPV affects only 1 out of 1,000 people every year. It mostly affects older adults and may be connected to migraines, inner ear infections, osteoporosis, and diabetes. The problem may occur again within a 5-year period.

#2. Dizziness can be a symptom of heart disease

Leaking or narrow heart valves, atherosclerosis, arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, and similar heart problems can cause dizziness to occur due to the lack of proper blood flow to the brain.

#3. Anxiety can bring about dizziness

People in their 20s who experience dizziness may find it to be related to anxiety. This can frustrate them because they do not want to believe it is all in their heads. However, the brain is in the head. Anxiety can be an indication of brain function disturbances that may be genetic in nature.

#4. The balance system of the ear controls blood flow

The inner ear has the ability to know which way is up. When you are lying down and you stand up, the utricle and saccule – two inner ear structures – detect gravity. They signal the cardiovascular system to send blood flow to the proper place depending on what your position is. If this process malfunctions, it may cause dizziness.

#5. Dizziness caused by low vitamin B12 levels

Lacking this vitamin in your system can lead to a variety of neurological problems, such as having low blood pressure, feeling off balance, and decreased blood flow to the brain. A simple blood test can confirm or deny that this is the case.

#6. Dehydration or diet can cause dizziness

Even being mildly dehydrated can be a cause of dizziness or light-headedness. Dehydration causes your blood pressure to drop, leading to dizzy spells. It is important to be aware of this if you are on a special diet as some diets can cause dehydration.

#7. Medication can cause vertigo or dizziness

In particular, high blood pressure medication is known to cause these symptoms, especially in older adults. This is true of those who are taking too high of a dose as well. It is a good idea to start out on the lowest dose possible and then increase it if necessary. Carefully reviewing your medications and their side effects is a good idea.

#8. A waterbed or riding in a boat can cause dizziness

You may experience a rocky, dizzy feeling when returning from a cruise or even a short boat ride. Sometimes this feeling lasts for days or months. As many as 75 percent of sailors experience this. Airplanes, cars, and trains can cause your legs to feel wobbly, as can lying on a waterbed.

#9. Migraines cause vertigo

It may be shocking to learn that vertigo attacks can occur with migraines, even those that are not accompanied by headaches. You may also have a sensitivity to light, movement, sound, or odors. Around 40% of those with migraines have vertigo.

#10. Acoustic neuroma can cause vertigo

Doctors explain that an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows inside the skull. It starts as a small tissue but can eventually grow from 1.5 cm to 2.5 cm. As the mass of tissue expands in size, it can impinge on the vestibular nerve and impact the inner ear’s ability to send accurate signals to the brain. This typically leads to symptoms ranging from spinning sensations to temporary hearing loss.

While case studies have yet to discover the root cause of acoustic neuroma, some findings note that the abnormal tissue growth is strongly linked with several risk factors, including:

  • Neurofibromatosis type 2 diagnosis - Studies note that 1 out of 37,000 patients a year turn out to have neurofibromatosis. Essentially, this rare disease causes tumor growths in the nervous system, especially the brain.
  • Leisure noise exposure - 2016 study found that leisure noise appears to trigger abnormal tumor growth in the neck and head.
  • High exposure to radiation primarily in the head and neck - Early exposure to radiation can increase your risk of developing acoustic neuroma. So, if you previously went through radiation therapy as a child, we suggest getting an official diagnosis for your vertigo attacks, tinnitus, and hearing loss.

Additional Facts About Vertigo and Dizziness

Peripheral Vs. Central Vertigo: Is There A Difference?

When you feel that you are twirling for no reason at all, then you likely have vertigo attacks. Usually likened to dizziness, this condition is distinct because of the seeming rotary experience. See a medical professional get yourself checked thoroughly to uncover the root cause. If you have checked the online landscape for details about your situation, you might have encountered such terms as peripheral and central regarding vertigo.

There are two kinds: they are different in terms of how they are triggered and how people receive treatment.

1. Peripheral Vertigo

It is relatively common and traces its roots to the inner ears. Certain conditions that affect the most in-depth section of the ears trigger vertigo attacks along with a host of other symptoms. Here is a closer look at some of the key triggers of peripheral vertigo:

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
Known as the number one vestibular disorder, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) comes about because of the accumulation of small calcium crystals in the inner ear’s canals. Responsible for our sense of balance, when the chunk of crystals moves out of their position and travel to an area where they should not be, it can lead to a sense of movement. The signals reach the brain, causing vertigo. Trauma to the neck or head is often the cause.

Meniere’s disease

Years ago, not many people knew about Meniere’s disease. That’s because it’s a rare vestibular system problem that causes vertigo attacks, tinnitus, ear congestion, and hearing loss. Recently, celebrities have come forward about having Meniere’s and how their condition affected their life and career.

One notable example is Jessie J, a UK-based singer best known for hits like Flashlight, Domino, and Price Tag. She shared how she got diagnosed with Meniere’s and experienced temporary hearing loss and frequent bouts of spinning sensations. Fortunately, she found help immediately, allowing her to cope with her symptoms and prevent lasting damage to her vestibulocochlear nerve.

But not everyone has the same success story. Some patients, especially those with severe Meniere’s disease hearing loss, never got their sense of hearing back. Unfortunately, when you have Meniere’s disease, you become at risk of losing both ear functions. That’s because the abnormal buildup of water inside the inner ears impacts your vestibulocochlear nerve. This specific nerve bundle sends information about what you hear or how your body moves to the central nervous system. The longer it takes to resolve the fluid buildup, the more damage it can inflict on your nerves.

This condition has vertigo as one of its chief symptoms. Viral infections cause the inflammation of the labyrinth, leading to severe vertigo attacks accompanied by feeling off-balance, nausea, and vomiting. Anyone who suffers from it may also deal with tinnitus, a feeling of fullness in the affected ear, and balance problems.

Vestibular neuritis
The swelling of the vestibular nerve causes this disorder. The vestibular nerve helps the body keeps its balance. It is likely a result of an inner ear infection. Vertigo caused by vestibular neuritis is pretty severe and lasts a day or more. Some cases involve hearing loss. According to a report by the Cleveland Clinic, 95% of people with the condition recover without recurring attacks.

2. Central Vertigo

In this case, the spinning case might be due to an issue in the brainstem. If so, the person must seek expert care to ensure that the progression slows down and does not cause significant problems. The brain processes inputs from the eyes, ears, spinal cord, and other body areas to determine the current state of equilibrium.

When the signals that traverse the spinal cord to the brain meet roadblocks along the way, it can lead to misinterpreted messages and incorrect commands.

Pathway issues can arise from the following:

Head and neck trauma
A forceful smack on the head or even the sudden forward and backward movements in the case of whiplash can cause significant damage to the head and cervical spine. Concussions are also known to trigger vertigo attacks. Although the symptoms might not manifest immediately after the event, knowing that this is a possibility can help medical professionals and chiropractors establish a medical history.

Cervical disc degeneration
When the intervertebral discs become brittle and cannot hold their places anymore, they can break down and create narrower channels. The result is a lesser blood supply to the brain. When this happens, optimal brain functions might become challenging to accomplish.

Multiple Sclerosis
It is a progressive, disabling condition that affects the central nervous system. People diagnosed with multiple sclerosis complain of vertigo as one of their recurring symptoms.

Aside from these, migraines can also trigger central vertigo. Migraineurs, or people with migraines, dealing with light sensitivity, often experience disequilibrium.

vertigo attacks and dizziness facts

Symptoms of Central and Peripheral Vertigo

Aside from the rapid rotary motion that closely mirrors a roller-coaster experience, these are some of the symptoms of vertigo attacks:

  • Inability to maintain focus - Some people develop nystagmus, an eye perception issue that causes involuntary rapid eye movements and affect coordination and equilibrium.
  • Cold sweats - Not being able to stabilize oneself can raise anxiety levels and make the person experience cold sweats.
  • Headaches - An expected reaction to the imaginary spins, a person battling vertigo also needs to deal with the pain that can start on one side of the head before it radiates to the back of the head and the neck.
  • Limited mobility - A physical experience that is particularly applicable to central vertigo, a person’s ability to move smoothly might be limited since the trigger point is the brain stem encased by the cervical spine.
  • Nystagmus - Vertigo attacks often come hand in hand with other sensory disruptions such as nystagmus or uncontrollable eye jerking. It’s also one of the main symptoms that doctors look at when diagnosing the root cause of an episode.

Find Relief from Vertigo and Dizziness with Upper Cervical Care

A connection has been noted between vertigo attacks and a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine. In particular, if the C1 and C2 vertebrae are misaligned, they can be putting the brainstem under pressure or stress since it is located in the same general area. This can cause the brainstem to send improper signals to the brain about the body’s position. If the brainstem tells the brain there is movement when there is no movement, vertigo can be the end result.

We use a gentle method to encourage the bones of the neck to realign naturally rather than popping or cracking them. This results in a longer-lasting adjustment that often brings relief to victims of vertigo attacks and dizziness. Once the body is properly healed, vertigo may go away and not return.

FAQS: Understanding Vertigo Attacks

Why is it important to address vertigo right away?

It's important to address vertigo attacks right away because if it goes untreated, it can cause problems with your balance and coordination. In some cases, vertigo can lead to fainting or falls. And in the worse cases, vertigo can be life-threatening if it leads to falls that result in serious injuries or broken bones.

All the same, it's important to note that not all cases of dizziness are caused by vertigo attacks. If you think someone may have vertigo, here are some questions you should ask:

  • How long have you been experiencing this feeling?
  • Does the feeling come on suddenly or gradually?
  • Does the feeling happen suddenly when something triggers it (like turning your head quickly), or is there no specific trigger?
  • Are there any other symptoms associated with what you are feeling?

This way, you can have a better idea of whether or not it is vertigo that is affecting your life or that of your loved ones.

How is vertigo diagnosed?

Vertigo is generally diagnosed by taking a medical history and performing tests to rule out other conditions. Your doctor might ask questions about the symptoms you experience and how long they have been occurring.

They may also ask about your habits and lifestyle — for example, if you've had any recent changes in diet or exercise patterns that could have contributed to the problem. Your doctor will likely perform some simple tests to rule out other conditions that could cause vertigo attacks. These include:

  • A physical exam
  • A test called an audiogram (or hearing test) to check for hearing loss
  • A test called an ENG (electronystagmography) measures eye movements while you're moving around so that doctors can see whether there's any unusual movement happening in the inner ear

Once you've been diagnosed with vertigo, your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan to help control your related symptoms.

How long do vertigo attacks last?

Vertigo can last between some seconds to several minutes, depending on the cause. While vertigo attacks may seem to last for a brief moment, it’s important to remember that others can last longer. For example, chronic positional vertigo is a long-term condition that causes you to feel dizzy whenever you change your position or move your head in certain ways.

This can make it difficult for those who suffer from vertigo attacks to work or go about their daily lives without getting dizzy all the time. If you think you are experiencing vertigo attacks for the first time, it is important to see a medical professional or your GP so they can determine what’s causing your symptoms.

Find a credible chiropractor to find out if you have an atlas subluxation and if this might be triggering or worsening your vertigo attacks! Check out the UCA Doctors Directory to find the nearest practice in your city. 

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.