Vertigo happens when your brain perceives the body or the environment to be moving when everything is perfectly still. It may come and go, or it may last longer. It is a false sense of movement and is often accompanied with nausea. If it persists, it can have a significant impact on your daily life, making basic tasks, like walking, crossing the street or cooking a challenge. It also increases your risk of falling and injuring yourself. But vertigo is not a disease. It’s a symptom of several afflictions. So, what should you do if you suspect that you have vertigo?
GO TO THE RIGHT DOCTOR
Take an appointment with an ENT or a neurologist. ENT doctors treat disorders and diseases of the ears, nose, and throat, while neurologists treat vertigo that’s linked to conditions of the brain or brain stem.
KNOW THE TYPES OF VERTIGO
In general, there are two types. The most common one being peripheral vertigo, which is caused by a problem in the inner ear. Central vertigo is much less common and can result from an illness or injury affecting the brain, such as a concussion, a stroke, or migraine.
UNDERGO CERTAIN TESTS
After taking down your medical history, the doctor will do a physical exam. This physical exam may include a series of tests:
- Dix-Hallpike Manoeuvre is used if your doctor suspects benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) — the most common cause of vertigo. To perform this test, the doctor will rapidly move you from sitting to supine position, and after waiting for 25 seconds, bring you back into sitting position to observe your balance.
- Head Impulse Test is usually used if vestibular neuritis is suspected. It evaluates how well your eyes and inner ears work together. The doctor will grasp your head and apply brief, small-amplitude, high-acceleration head thrusts first to one side and then to the other side. You will be expected to fixate on the doctor’s nose, while he observes you.
- Electronystagmography (ENG) or Videonystagmography (VNG) is used to check abnormal eye movement to determine if the vertigo is related to the inner ear. While ENG includes caloric tests, oculomotor tests and positional tests, VNG testing involves goggles and special infrared cameras to measure eye movements.
- MRI and CT Scans are tests that you might undergo to give your doctor a clearer picture of what’s causing your vertigo. These tests offer imaging of the vestibular system and lesions, allowing your doctor to make an in-depth study of the ear and brain.
- Bloodwork is usually conducted for your complete blood count in order to check for infections.
GET THE RIGHT TREATMENT
Treating central vertigo is slightly more complicated because it involves the brain, while peripheral vertigo, especially BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) is easily treated with vestibular rehabilitation exercises and manoeuvres like the Epley Manoeuvre, the Semont Manoeuvre, the Foster Manoeuvre (also known as the Half Somersault) and the Brandt-Daroff Exercise. These manoeuvres and exercises must be performed as per your doctor’s instruction. But since vertigo is a symptom, you may be prescribed medication to treat the condition that is causing it.
The doctor may also prescribe medication to offer symptomatic relief. These drugs need to be taken strictly as directed by the medical practitioner. They can cause drowsiness and a blurry vision, so should be avoided if you’re driving or using heavy machinery. Some of them also come with a dementia warning and should be consumed with extreme care.
(This Article is Sponsored by Abbott)