Vertigo is the sensation that you or the environment around you is spinning and moving. It is not dizziness, as it has a rotation component to it whereas dizziness does not. Vertigo is the false sense of movement. If you feel like you are moving or spinning, you are experiencing subjective movement. If it seems as if your surroundings are moving, you are having an episode of objective vertigo.
What Causes Vertigo?
Vertigo may be due to a problem in the brain, the central nervous system, or the inner ear. Vertigo is a symptom of another condition and is not contagious. Here are some conditions that have vertigo as one of their main symptoms:
- BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo): The most common form of vertigo is characterized by a period of motion lasting about 15 seconds to a few minutes. This is often called a sudden attack of vertigo and can be brought about by sudden or particular movements of the head (like rolling over in bed).
- Labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis: Caused by inflammation of the inner ear, this condition is known for the sudden onset of vertigo and possible loss of hearing. Most commonly, it is due to a bacterial or viral infection of the inner ear. Symptoms may continue for days until the inflammation dies down. Some viruses responsible for these conditions are herpes, influenza, measles, polio, Epstein-Barr, rubella, hepatitis, and mumps.
- Meniere’s disease: Known for a triad of symptoms — vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and hearing loss — Meniere’s disease can be incapacitating. Vertigo and hearing loss may come on quickly and fluctuate leaving a person with periods of severe disability and then periods of being symptom-free. It’s not known what causes Meniere’s but is theorized to be due to some type of viral infection of the inner ear, a head or neck injury, genetics, or allergies.
- Acoustic neuroma: While uncommon, a tumor of the nerve tissue of the inner ear causes this condition. Along with vertigo, one-sided ringing in the ear and hearing loss follows.
- Decreased blood flow to the brain: A blood clot or blockage in blood vessels can lead to strokes in the brain. Bleeding into the brain can be another issue. This causes vertigo, headaches, problems with walking, and inability to look to the side of the bleed.
- Multiple sclerosis: The onset of vertigo is abrupt, and examining the eyes can reveal they cannot move past the midline toward the nose.
- Migraines: These are severe type of a headache causing vertigo in some cases. Usually, vertigo happens first and the headache follows, but not always.
- Head and neck trauma: Cervical vertigo can be related to a neck problem, such as impairment of blood vessels or nerves in the neck.
- Diabetes: Hardening of the arteries is one complication from diabetes that can cause the blood flow to the brain to be lowered.
- Hormonal changes and low blood sugar: A combination like this can cause pregnant women to experience vertigo, particularly in the first trimester. In the second trimester, vertigo may come about due to pressure on blood vessels from the expanding uterus. Later on, when the woman lies on her back, vertigo may occur due to the weight of the baby pressing on the large vein carrying blood to the head.
- Panic attacks and anxiety: These can bring on the sensation of vertigo. Stress can worsen symptoms but does not usually cause them.
- Mal de Darquement: This means sickness of disembarkation and is the medical term used for the feeling of vertigo you get after coming off of a boat or ship.
The main symptom of vertigo, as mentioned earlier, is a spinning or rotational feeling of movement. This is not the same as lightheadedness or fainting. Motion sickness differs as well since it is the feeling of being off balance. If you have true vertigo, you will have a sensation of disorientation or motion and any or all of the following:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Nystagmus — abnormal eye movements
Other symptoms may occur as well:
- Movement in head position can make vertigo occur or worsen
- Hearing loss and a ringing noise in the ears
- Visual disturbances
- Difficulty speaking
- A decreased level of consciousness
- Problem walking
Hope for Vertigo Sufferers Revealed Through a Case Study
A study observed 60 patients who suffered from chronic vertigo. They all recalled having previous trauma to their upper cervical area. Each one was examined and cared for over an 8-year period. Some of the trauma that occurred before the onset of vertigo included sporting accidents, automobile accidents, falling on icy sidewalks, and falls down the stairs. Diagnostic testing revealed that each one had a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine. They were giving individualized care for their problem. They all responded positively to upper cervical care in 1 to 6 months. Out of the 60, all but 12 had their vertigo go away completely. The 12 reported a great improvement in severity and frequency of vertigo symptoms. This clearly shows us a connection between upper cervical misalignments and the onset of vertigo.
Finding Natural Relief for Vertigo
The top bones of the neck were designed to keep the brainstem protected. However, it has been discovered that if these bones misalign, they actually put the brainstem under stress or pressure and cause it to send improper signals to the brain. If the signals from the brainstem are telling the brain the body is in a different position than it actually is, and this does not match what input is coming from the ears and eyes, vertigo can be the result.
Upper cervical chiropractors have been specially trained to find these tiny misalignments and use a gentle method to realign them. This is unlike traditional chiropractic methods in that we do not have to resort to popping the neck or cracking the spine to get positive results. Rather, we encourage the bones to realign on a more natural basis, leading to a longer-lasting adjustment and less stress being put on the body. This often results in improvement in vertigo.