Vertigo is a type of disorder that affects your balance. It is often characterized by dizziness or a sensation that you or the room you are in is spinning. In instances where it feels as though you yourself are moving, this is known as subjective vertigo. If it feels like objects are moving or the room you’re in is spinning, this is known as objective vertigo. As a result of these sensations, it is also not uncommon to experience other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, headaches, and even sweating.
When it comes to diagnosing vertigo, it is important to understand that it is not the same as dizziness despite the two words sometimes being used interchangeably. When you are dizzy, you will feel faint, lightheaded, and unsteady…whereas with vertigo, you will perceive yourself or objects to be moving.
Vertigo can last a few hours to a few days, and in some cases may even take several weeks before it settles down completely. There are many reasons why an individual might develop vertigo, including inner ear infections, such as vestibular neuritis. Vestibular neuritis causes the vestibular nerve to become inflamed and disrupts your sense of balance. You can also develop vertigo as a result of a traumatic head injury, or even by moving a certain way – such as standing up or bending over. This is known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV. It can also be a common side effect of medications. If you notice any abnormalities (such as vertigo) while you are taking medications, it is important to avoid operating heavy machinery or driving until you know the side effects have subsided. You should always address any concerns you have about the medications you are taking with your doctor or pharmacy, and also be sure notify them right away of any abnormal side effects. In some cases, your physician may want to change the dose of your medication, or will prescribe you a different medication all together.
Treating vertigo will depend on how severe it is. The best way to prevent vertigo from worsening is to rest in bed and avoid movement as much as possible. When getting out of bed or moving around, it is important to do so slowly and carefully. To treat some of the symptoms that are associated with vertigo, like nausea and vomiting, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends trying over-the-counter antiemetic medications such as Gravol. If that is unsuccessful, a stronger medication called Ondansetron may be prescribed.
If your vertigo worsens or persists, your family physician may need to refer you to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist or a Neurologist.