What is Vertigo?

What is Vertigo and What Can You Do About It?

Vertigo is actually a generic term to describe a few different conditions, which cause dizziness, a spinning sensation, and balancing difficulties. Often, when people experience vertigo, it's because they suffer from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). An episode of BPPV is induced when the head is moved into a certain position, but symptoms of BPPV most often develop when the individual is lying down or reclined.

How does your body maintain its balance?

The human body utilizes a combination of muscles, bones, and joints to maintain its balance, though this system, known as the vestibular system, relies on visual cues to guide it. One of the key components of the vestibular system is the labyrinth, which is a part of the inner ear composed of soft tissue and bone. The labyrinth in each ear contains three small ducts, which are filled with fluid. The ducts are positioned at right angles and covered by a gelatinous structure called the cupula. When you turn your head or tilt it in any way, the fluid within the ducts shift, causing the cupula to flex. As the cupula flexes, tiny sensory cells are activated and they send messages to the brain, where the movement is interpreted.

The problem comes in when calcium enters the ear canal. As it travels through the labyrinth, it falsely stimulates the sensory cells and they send false messages to the brain. These messages are incongruous with messages the brain is receiving from other parts of the vestibular system, causing the brain to become confused. As a result, it produces the symptoms commonly associated with vertigo.

How is BPPV treated?

When you consult Dr. J. Scott Robertson about your incidences of vertigo, he'll first look for the causes of the symptoms. Tests, such as an electronystagmography (ENG) or videonystagmography (VNG), will help determine the underlying cause of your balance problems. Sending currents of warm and cool air will instigate an episode of dizziness, so your condition can be better evaluated. In some cases, a simple procedure, called Canalith Repositioning Procedures, may alleviate the condition. This involves repositioning the head in a series of movements, which are designed to move loose particles out of the inner ear canal. As they leave the area, incidences of vertigo should be eliminated. Your first step in resolving this condition is to contact Dr. Robertson for a medical evaluation.