What is vertigo?

What is vertigo?

For a child, spinning on a merry-go-round is exhilarating. For an adult, when that sensation occurs for no apparent reason, it can be downright alarming.

The feeling of whirling while stationary is called vertigo, and most often is caused by a disturbance in the inner ear.

“When a person has vertigo, he or she feels as if the room around them is moving or their body is moving when that’s actually not the case,” says Dr. Arkadiush Byskosh, an otolaryngologist (ear nose and throat doctor) at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “As a result of this feeling, a person may become unsteady, lose their balance and may fall. It can be quite disorienting.”

The most common type of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which isn’t serious but can be bothersome. It happens when the crystals in the ear become dislodged. When these crystals of calcium carbonate, also known as canaliths, become loose, it affects a person’s sense of balance and results in dizziness.

How do you treat vertigo?

The best treatment is to move the crystals to some place in the ear where they can’t cause trouble. The procedure can be performed in a doctor’s office. It’s called canalith repositioning, or the Epley maneuver, which involves turning and tilting the head.

“It makes the crystals go to another part of the ear so the dizziness goes away,” Dr. Byskosh says. “It doesn’t take very long, and it’s usually quite effective.”

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  1. Heather Klopp-Nelson March 26, 2019 at 1:22 pm · Reply

    Vertigo has recently impacted my life and I thought I would share that there are viruses and bacterial causes of Vertigo. I was treated for Vestibular Neuritis, which is a form of Vertigo. Medications and physical therapy have been part of the treatment plan. The hope is that the cause was a virus because I am less likely to get it again. It has impacted my life with missed work and changes in personal plans for about 4 weeks.

  2. Jennifer Starin March 26, 2019 at 1:48 pm · Reply

    Vertigo can also be happen in conjunction with migraines. I’ve suffered “migraine-induced vertigo” several times in my life, and the Eply maneuver won’t touch it.
    My migraines are typically brought on by someone wearing a chemical perfume.

  3. Tracy Neatherlin March 27, 2019 at 6:51 am · Reply

    I also suffered from Vestibular Neuritis, missed work, did therapy and couldn’t drive for weeks. That was 3 or 4 years ago. Since then I had another episode while driving, had someone come get me and went to the ER. They gave me fluids and Benadryl. I eventually went home to bed and recovered within 1day after. I don’t know if the Benadryl had any affect on the recovery but I have some on hand now. I also wonder if anyone gets these weird sensations in their head. I do and it only started after the 1st episode. Good luck to all that suffer from Vertigo.

  4. I suffered with vertigo for 3 years. Had episodes once a week, sometimes more. Searched for answers. Saw many doctors. What helped me end this was going on a strict gluten free diet. Within 2 weeks my vertigo was gone. Ten years later and adhering to a gluten free diet still it has not returned.

  5. Gluten free diet sounds like it’s worth a try.

About the Author

Kathleen Troher
Kathleen Troher

Kathleen Troher, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington. She has more than 20 years of journalism experience, with her primary focus in the newspaper and magazine industry. Kathleen graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, earning her degree in journalism with an emphasis on science writing and broadcasting. She loves to travel with her husband, Ross. They share their home with a sweet Samoyed named Maggie.