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Vertigo – a disorder of balance

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Bernice Clark | Wednesday April 8, 2009 6:01PM ET
VertigoVertigo is the sensation of spinning or whirling that occurs as a result of a disturbance in balance.


Under the normal circumstances our sense of balance is controlled by few body senses: our eyes, sensory nerves and the inner ear. Our eyes are our visual sense which helps us to determine where is our body in space and how it is moving, while our sensory nerves situated in our skin, muscles and joints, send the messages to our brain about our body positions and it movements.

Although all this senses play important role in the process of keeping the balance, so called vestibular sense, situated in our inner ear plays the key role in that process. Vestibular labyrinth, the organ of balance in our inner ear, contains fluid and sensors which monitor the rotation of our head, helping us to detect gravity and forth and back motions.

In reality, vertigo is just a symptom which points to a function disorder of the centre for the balance. For vertigo to be healed, its cause must be healed. There are many potential causes of feeling dizziness. Vertigo is common type of dizziness. It's a subjective feeling that you are spinning around (subjective vertigo) or that surrounding objects spin around you (objective vertigo).

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo causes brief but intense episodes of vertigo usually when you stand up from a chair or turn over in bed. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be minimized by practicing different exercises and by drugs, but some of drugs may to cause side effects such as somnolence, tremor, insomnia and disorder of movement.

Inflammation of the inner ear can be one of the reasons for vertigo. Symptoms include sudden, intense vertigo that may persist for several days, nausea and vomiting. If inflammation of the inner ear is caused by bacteria the doctor will treat it with antibiotics.

So called Meniere's disease is characterized by sudden vertigo episodes that may last more than one hour. Symptoms include buzzing or ringing in an ear, feeling of fullness in an ear and fluctuating hearing loss. Along with taking drugs, it is important to restrict the input of salt and to avoid drinking black coffee and strong tea.

Migraine may also cause vertigo. Migraine related vertigo can last from few minutes to several days. Degenerative changes on spine or some other spine deformations in cervical spine and atherosclerosis may cause vertigo. If vertigo is caused by atherosclerosis in neck blood vessels, it is necessary to regulate blood pressure, level of sugar and fat in blood and to stop smoking.

There are many causes of feeling dizziness and only good cooperation between a patient, otorinolaringologist, neurologist and ophthalmologist will give good results of a treatment. Very often, patients doesn't know how exactly to describe how they feel, they describe all symptoms as "I'm feeling dizzy" or mix certain terms with other, which puzzles the doctor puzzled and leads to a wrong diagnosis.

So, try to be as precise as you can in describing what you are feeling. For instance: is your dizziness continued or it occur in episodes or spells; what triggered it, do you have a feeling that the room spins or that you spin; are you lost a balance during this episodes; does anything made it worse; does your vision blurs...

The most common symptoms which point that your centre for balance is damaged are lurching while walking, dizziness, feeling insecure while walking, feeling like you will decline while walking, "loosing" the ground under the feet, feeling that you can't to detect how high is the step while you climbing up or going down, staggering...

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