Vertigo 101: Your Beginner’s Guide to this Common Symptom


Don’t let the fact that vertigo is extremely common fool you. You are certainly not alone if you need more information about this symptom. Whether you are personally experiencing recurring bouts of vertigo or want to learn more about something a loved one is going through, this is the article for you. We’ll help you understand the condition better and provide a recommendation for natural relief. 

Vertigo Defined

We have to begin by answering the question: What is vertigo? In short, it refers to a false sense that you are moving or that the things around you are moving. Some people experience it as the room spinning. Others experience a tilting or swaying sensation. Even if you lay down and close your eyes, you may still get the feeling that you are spinning or falling. This can result in nausea or even vomiting. 

Is Vertigo a Disease? 

It is just a symptom. There is no disease called vertigo, although there is a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). For brevity, some people just call it positional vertigo. Perhaps this has caused some people to think that it is more than just a symptom. 

Conditions that Cause Vertigo 

Many different conditions can cause it – too many to mention them all here. This is why it is such a common problem. However, we can mention some of the more well-known causes. 

We can break it down into two categories: central and peripheral. 

Central Vertigo Causes 

Central vertigo occurs when the condition relates to the central nervous system. The most common cause of central vertigo is migraine. About 40% of migraines present with a vestibular symptom. That means millions of people get a spinning sensation for this reason alone. However, any neurological condition that causes vertigo would result in it being considered central vertigo. 

Peripheral Vertigo Causes 

This is the more common form of vertigo. It means that it comes from a problem in the inner ear or the vestibular nerve. Since the vestibular system is responsible for balance and spatial orientation, it makes sense that a problem would lead to false sense of movement. It can be something as simple as inflammation in the ear or as complex as a syndrome like Meniere’s disease. Positional vertigo also falls into this category, which is what makes it the more common of the two.

Attacks Can Differ in Length and Severity 

Depending on the cause of your vertigo, the attacks may differ in length and severity. Let’s take two specific causes of it to illustrate this point. 

First, we will consider positional vertigo. Positional vertigo results in episodes that last just a few seconds or a few minutes at the most. Because of this, it is not considered to be very serious. However, you have to remember that even a few seconds of attack can cause a fall with perilous consequences. 

If a person is living with Meniere’s disease, vertigo attacks will be much more severe and lengthy in duration. Meniere’s flare-ups usually cause an attack for at least 20 minutes. Some attacks can last all day long and contribute to nausea and vomiting. 

While the duration of a bout of vertigo can make it more debilitating, it is the sudden nature of an attack that makes it dangerous and can cause a fall, a severe injury, or even death. So be sure to investigate any cause of vertigo to learn if there is a way to prevent it from happening again. 

What Triggers a Vertigo Attack?

Depending on the underlying cause, varying factors may lead to the sudden onset of an episode. Knowing your triggers can help you to avoid them and reduce how often vertigo occurs. Here are just a few things that may lead to an attack: 

  • Increased stress or anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Injuries
  • Bright lights
  • Certain over the counter or prescription medications (if you believe a prescription drug is causing your vertigo, discuss this with a doctor – never change your dosage on your own)
  • Sudden changes in head position

How May Past Injuries Relate to the Onset of Vertigo?

Vertigo always has an underlying cause. However, it is interesting to note that many of those underlying causes begin in the aftermath of a head or neck injury. What may contribute to this phenomenon?

When a person experiences head or neck trauma, the upper cervical spine can become misaligned, even slightly. This, in turn, can create the right conditions in the body for spinning sensation to occur. Here are a few examples:

  • Brainstem function – Because the C1 (atlas) surrounds the brainstem, it only takes a slight misalignment for this bone to go from a protector to applying pressure to inhibit brainstem function. 
  • Cerebral blood flow – The cervical spine facilities blood flow to the brain. Any misalignment can inhibit this proper flow of blood and lead to CNS problems. 
  • Vestibular function – When the top bones in the neck become misaligned, this can lead to changes in the surrounding soft tissue. Some of those changes may affect the Eustachian tubes. If this occurs, the ears may fail to drain properly, resulting in conditions that cause vertigo. 

Natural Relief May Be Closer Than You Think 

An upper cervical chiropractic can safely and effectively correct upper cervical misalignments with great precision and gentleness. For some patients, this dramatically reduces the effects of vertigo or may even correct the issue altogether. To learn more, contact an upper cervical specific chiropractor in your area 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.