HIGHLIGHTS

Open
Grocery Coupons

Grocery Coupons

Members can print free savings coupons

Brain Health Center

Brain Health Center

Learn how to live smart and stay sharp

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Members save on e-
readers and tablets

Caring for loved ones?

Caring for loved ones?

Find the resources you need

Vertigo Learning Center

  • Enlarge
  • Print
  • Recommend

Vertigo

What Is Vertigo-Associated Disease?

Vertigo is one of the most common medical complaints. Vertigo is the feeling that you are moving when you are not. Or it might feel like things around you are moving when they are not. Vertigo can feel similar to motion sickness. Patients generally refer to vertigo as “feeling dizzy.” Vertigo is not the same as lightheadedness.

The most common causes of vertigo are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s disease, and acute onset vertigo.

Treatment depends on the cause. Popular treatments include special medications called vestibular blocking agents.

The outlook for vertigo-associated disease (VAD) depends on the cause. Acute onset vertigo attacks generally last 24 to 48 hours. Meniere’s disease does not have a cure.

Causes of Vertigo-Associated Disease

There are two categories of vertigo. Peripheral vertigo occurs as a result of a problem in the inner ear or the vestibular nerve. The vestibular nerve connects the inner ear with the brain. Central vertigo occurs when there is a problem in the brain, especially the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the part of the hindbrain that controls coordination of movements and balance.

Causes of Peripheral Vertigo

According to research published in Australian Family Physician, 93 percent of vertigo cases are peripheral vertigo caused by one of the following (Kuo et al., 2008):

  • benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): vertigo brought on by specific changes in the position of your head—it is caused by calcium stones floating in the semicircular canals of the ear
  • Meniere’s disease: an inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing
  • acute peripheral vestibulopathy (APV): inflammation of the inner ear causing sudden onset of vertigo

Rarely, peripheral vertigo is caused by

  • perilymphatic fistula: abnormal communication between the middle ear and the inner ear
  • cholesteatoma erosion: erosion caused by a cyst in the inner ear
  • otosclerosis: abnormal bone growth in the middle ear

Causes of Central Vertigo

Causes of central vertigo include

  • stroke
  • a tumor in the cerebellum
  • migraine
  • multiple sclerosis

Symptoms of Vertigo-Associated Disease

Vertigo feels similar to motion sickness.

Symptoms of VAD include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • stumbling while walking

Diagnosis of Vertigo-Associated Disease

Diagnosis of VAD depends on:

  • whether or not you have true vertigo
  • whether the cause is peripheral or central
  • whether life-threatening complications are present.

Doctors can separate dizziness from vertigo by asking a simple question: “Is the world spinning, or are you lightheaded?” If the world appears to be spinning, you have true vertigo. If you are lightheaded, you are experiencing dizziness.

Tests

Tests to determine the type of vertigo include:

  • head-thrust test (the patient looks at the examiner’s nose; the examiner makes a quick head movement to the side and looks for correct eye movement)
  • Romberg test (the patient stands with feet together and eyes open, then closes eyes and tries to maintain balance)
  • Fukuda-Unterberger test (the patient is asked to march in place with eyes closed without leaning from side to side)

Imaging tests for VAD include:

  • computed tomography (CT) scan
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Warning Signs

Warning signs of serious complications include:

  • sudden vertigo not affected by change of position
  • vertigo associated with neurological signs such as severe gait and truncal ataxia (lack of muscle coordination)
  • vertigo associated with deafness and no history of Meniere’s disease

Treatment of Vertigo-Associated Disease

Treatment depends on the cause. Vestibular blocking agents (VBAs) are the most popular type of medication used.

Vestibular blocking agents include:

  • antihistamines (promethazine, betahistine)
  • benzodiazepines (diazepam, lorazepam)
  • antiemetics (prochlorperazine, metoclopramide)

Treatments for specific causes of vertigo include:

  • acute vertigo attack: bed rest, VBAs, antiemetic medications
  • BPPV: Epley repositioning maneuver, a specific movement which loosens the calcium crystals and clears them from the ear canal
  • acute peripheral vestibulopathy: bed rest, VBAs
  • Meniere’s disease: bed rest, antiemetic medications, and VBAs

Risk Factors for Vertigo-Associated Disease

Factors that increase your risk of VAD include

  • cardiovascular diseases (especially in elderly people)
  • recent ear infection (causes imbalance in the inner ear)
  • history of head trauma
  • medications (antidepressants, antipsychotics, etc.)

Outlook for Vertigo-Associated Disease

The outlook for VAD depends on the cause. APV usually lasts 24 to 48 hours. Meniere’s disease has no cure. You will need to manage the symptoms.

Content licensed from:

Written by: Lydia Krause
Published on Jul 20, 2012
Medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
health
TOOLS
Condition & Treatment Search
Symptom Search
Drug Search

 

 

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Tanger Outlets

Members can get a free Tanger Coupon Book with discount offers from top brand names.

Woman trying on glasses in optometrists shop

Members save 25% on orders of $200 or more and get 25% off lens upgrades at Glasses.com.

Outback Steak

Members save 15% on lunch every day & on dinner Mon-Thurs at Outback Steakhouse.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

AARP FIGHTS FOR YOU
ADVOCACY & PROGRAMS

African American, Asian Community Page

AARP In Your Corner

Visit Black Community, Español  and Asian Community pages.

AARP Drivers Safety logo

Driver Safety Program

Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp. 

Create the Good

Create The Good 

Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood. 

AARP Drive to End Hunger Logo

Drive to End Hunger

NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP Foundation. 

 

Green Dot Prepaid Card

Prepaid MasterCard

AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard brought to you by Green Dot.

Most Popular

Viewed

Nothing has been viewed