Do you remember what it felt like to step off a merry-go-round ride? Well, vertigo can feel like that. The difference is that you’re not on a carousel. You’re standing perfectly still. It is a type of dizziness that gives you a light-headed, unsteady feeling accompanied with a ringing sound in your ears and an illusion that the world spinning. It causes nausea, difficulty in walking and rhythmic jerking movement of the eye. Experts say that not only does vertigo reduce one’s quality of life, but it also undermines a person’s level of confidence, resulting in a feeling of insecurity.
In India, it is estimated that eight crore people suffer from vertigo. *Moreover, it is three times more common in the elderly, and has exhibited a nearly three-fold preponderance. But due to lack of awareness, nearly 25% of these cases go undiagnosed. When undiagnosed and untreated, vertigo can be extremely dangerous. It can hit you at any time – you could be walking, driving, crossing the road, standing near a stove or by the window. Worse, if you’re an older person with osteoporosis, you can fall and cause potential damage to yourself that is sometimes irreparable.
That’s why, Understanding Balance Disorders – an initiative to spread awareness about balance – sheds some light on vertigo, the most common balance disorder
VERTIGO IS NOT A DISEASE. BUT A SYMPTOM OF MANY
Vertigo is, most commonly, the symptom of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (fall of small calcium particles called otolith deposits inside the inner ear), Ménière Disease (elevation of fluid pressure inside the inner ear), Transient Ischemic Attack or a Stroke (lesions in particular areas of the brain, which restrict cerebral blood flow) and vestibular neuronitis (inflammation of vestibular nerve caused by viral infection). Vertigo also presents itself in multiple sclerosis, migraine, stress, anxiety, hormonal imbalances as well as head and neck trauma or something as simple as an ear infection or ear wax.
MOST OF IT IS LINKED TO YOUR EAR AND BRAIN
If you thought the only function of your ears was to help you listen, think again. Your inner ear has something called the vestibular system that helps you maintain balance. If the system is damaged by disease, ageing or injury, it can result in vertigo, amongst other issues.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FEEL THE SYMPTOMS
Don’t self-medicate or ignore. Head to the doctor. Most cases of vertigo are harmless and are caused by an infection. It can be debilitating but easily treatable with prescribed medication. Ask your doctor to rule out serious or life-threatening causes. However, if you’re dealing with double vision, have difficulty speaking, lack of coordination, abnormal eye movement or altered level of consciousness, we recommend you go straight to ER.
*Ref: Agrawal Y, Ward BK, Minor LB. Vestibular dysfunction: prevalence, impact and need for targeted treatment. J Vestib Res. 2013;23(3):113–117. doi:10.3233/VES-130498
(This Article is Sponsored by Abbott)