The Link Between Vertigo and Alcohol Consumption


Vertigo and alcohol use seem to go hand in hand. That is why we are going to discuss what vertigo is, why alcohol can increase the effects of this symptom, and what you can do to lessen the effects of vertigo. 

What Is Vertigo?

Vertigo is the sensation that you or the room around you is moving in a way that it is not. You may feel like things are tilting, swaying, spinning, or shifting in some other way. When vertigo is severe, it can cause nausea and vomiting because even closing your eyes and laying down may not stop the false sensation that you are moving. 

Keep in mind that vertigo is a symptom of various conditions, and it is not a health condition on its own, so you should always be looking for the underlying cause of vertigo. There are also attack triggers, and this is where vertigo and alcohol begin to conflict. 

The Effects of Overindulgence in Alcohol 

We’re going to focus on overindulgence in alcohol in particular. However, if you are suffering from recurring bouts of vertigo, even a little alcohol may be too much for you. Here are some of the things that can occur once you go past your limit:

  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Euphoria
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Loss of memory
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Slower breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Vertigo

Of course, there can be much more severe repercussions if a person has even more to drink. In fact, a person can also pass out and die from blood alcohol poisoning. However, for now, let’s focus on the reason that overindulging in alcohol triggers vertigo in the first place. 

How Alcohol Affects the Inner Ear 

There are two keys parts of the body that come into play when vertigo occurs: the ears and the brain. How does alcohol affect the inner ear, which is responsible for sending signals about balance and spatial awareness to the brain? 

The inner ear is made up of three tiny canals. Fluid, crystals, and tiny hairs, all of which help determine the position of your body regarding your surroundings, fill these canals. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body. This can reduce the amount of fluid in the ears. It can also affect one ear more than the other and lead to an unbalanced amount of fluid. Ultimately, this can result in the ears sending the wrong signals or conflicting signals to the brain. Vertigo may be the result. 

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

Alcohol impacts the brain by messing with neurotransmitter pathways that allow the neurons to pass signals rapidly. When anything interferes with these pathways, the brain may no longer process the information coming from the ears in the correct manner. The brainstem, in particular, is affected. This can lead to vertigo. 

What to Do if You Get Vertigo 

One of the first things you should do is stop drinking, at least until you can find and correct the underlying cause of vertigo. For most people, this is a mere inconvenience, but if you also have an alcohol dependency, you may need to get assistance to stay away from alcohol. In this case, it is wise to continue avoiding alcohol even after you discover and correct your underlying vertigo cause. 

What Are Some Possible Underlying Causes of Vertigo? 

There are a number of conditions that could be contributing to your vertigo. Here are just a few:

  • BPPV – Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo refers to a condition wherein vertigo is triggered by certain positions or movements of the head. 
  • Meniere’s disease – This condition is usually related to abnormal fluid buildup in one ear. The results are vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), a feeling of fullness in the affected ear, and partial hearing loss. While alcohol dehydrates a person and reduced fluid in the body, it’s not something you want to do with this condition. It can actually make matters worse if it reduces fluid levels in the good ear and not the one with extra fluid. 
  • Upper cervical misalignment – Remember that the two locations that vertigo stems from are the ears and the brain. Upper cervical misalignments can affect both. The atlas (C1 vertebra) surrounds the brainstem, so even the slightest misalignment can have an effect on proper brainstem function. This can impact how the brain perceives messages from the ears about balance and spatial orientation. Misalignments can also impact ear function by changing how the Eustachian tubes drain excess fluid away from the ears. 

Upper Cervical Chiropractic for Vertigo 

So far, we have primarily focused on vertigo and alcohol and the lifestyle changes that can reduce how often your episodes occur. However, we would now like to focus on a natural way to get to the heart of the issue. If the underlying problem is an upper cervical misalignment, then a specific form of chiropractic may be just what you need to find long-lasting relief.

Upper cervical chiropractors begin by taking precise measurements of the top two bones in the neck by means of diagnostic imaging. This allows the practitioner to calculate a precise and gentle adjustment for each patient. For some vertigo patients, this has corrected the primary underlying issue and led to relief. It makes sense to give this natural therapy a try, especially if you have a history of head or neck injury. To learn more, contact an upper cervical specific chiropractor in your area and schedule a consultation today.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Areato schedule a consultation today.


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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.