You might have felt that sensation of dizziness when you look down from great height. For instance if you look down from the roof of a skyscraper, you end up feeling giddy for a while. That feeling of momentarily dizziness is not necessarily “vertigo” as described in the world of medicine.
In this article, we will present a basic differentiation between dizziness and vertigo.
Dizziness is a feeling of lightheadedness with or without loss of balance. Dizziness is also felt when there is a blood pressure drop. Dehydration is also a major cause of dizziness, and motion sickness can definitely make people dizzy. There are forms of dizziness that pass without medical intervention. However, dizziness can also be a symptom of a more serious medical condition.
How about vertigo?
Regular folk might think that vertigo is just dizziness, but in the medical profession it is a very specific type of dizziness. Vertigo is more than a sense of being giddy, but instead it is a sensation that the world is spinning. It is also not similar to a fear of heights or acrophobia. Rather, even if the environment is not moving at all, the person who suffers from vertigo feet as if the world moves all the time. It is also different from a certain type of false sensation or disequilibrium. The type of dizziness that is felt in vertigo is a form of spinning due primarily to a pathological condition of the vestibular system which is found within the inner ear.
There is a set of associated symptoms that characterize a state of vertigo. Some of these symptoms are tinnitus or ringing in the ears, hearing loss, vomiting, and nausea. There are a couple of areas that may be problematic, thus resulting in the physical symptoms. If there is a disturbance in the labyrinth within the inner ear or in the auditory nerve pathways, vertigo may result. These abnormalities may result from inner ear infection, vestibular nerve inflammation, and Ménière's disease, among others. A certain type of vertigo that is caused by migraine headache is called central vertigo.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV is worth mentioning here because it is a condition that is very manageable as soon as it is diagnosed properly. BPPV is seen more in older persons than in younger people, and its incidence is higher in women than in men. Although there is no known cause, there are available management approaches that address the problems appropriately.
BPPV is an idiopathic disease without an identifiable cause, but there are cases where BPPV is seen after head injury, ear surgery, labyrinthitis, vertebrobasilar ischemia (or reduced blood flow in that area of the brain), and prolonged bed rest. BPPV may also be seen as an associated symptom in syphilis, drug toxicity, otosclerosis or a genetic problem in the ear that leads to deafness, and Ramsay Hunt syndrome (viral infection).
For an effective treatment approach, it is important to determine the pathology or problem underneath vertigo. Typical interventions include drugs such as anticholinergics, antihistamines, anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, and beta-blockers and surgical measures.