Vertigo treatment depends on causes and symptoms

There are a multitude of causes of dizziness that may have nothing to do with the balance organ in the inner ear.

By Staff Reporter

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Published: Sat 30 Jun 2012, 9:40 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:44 PM

Fainting attacks, heart problems, thyroid problems and brain problems can all give rise to feelings of light-headedness, giddiness and general imbalance, explains Dr Hussein Al Kadiri, ENT specialist, Zulekha Hospital, Sharjah.

One form of dizziness is vertigo that is the specific complaint of either the environment moving in relation to the patient or the patient moving in relation to the environment. “It is usually a spinning or rotatory sensation. Vertigo is specifically linked to problems with the inner ear,” he said.

People who suffer from vertigo because of inner ear problems, 99 per cent will recover with time and without any treatment. Balance and the ability to remain upright are dependent upon three systems. Generally people can keep their balance if two of the three systems are working, but they cannot cope with only one system working. This is why most people tend to become unsteady as they get older.

Short-lived episodes of dizziness (few seconds to minutes):

An extremely common type of vertigo is benign positional vertigo. This is typically a very sudden onset of dizziness which settles rapidly after a few seconds or at most a couple of minutes.

It is often started when the person suddenly looks upwards or sideways and some people get it when they turn over in bed. In between attacks, the sufferer feels entirely normal. It is caused by a little piece of lining coming loose in the inner ear and floating into the balance receptor, causing a sudden increase in nerve stimulus to the brain.

Medium length episodes of 
dizziness (half-hour to 
several hours):

These types of vertigo are rare and are thought to be because of an increase in pressure of the fluid in the inner ear.

Menière’s disease or endolymphatic hydrops result in episodes of severe vertigo that can last up to several hours. The dizzy episodes are usually linked with vomiting, and the sufferer can often tell an episode is about to start because he or she notices a drop in their hearing, a feeling of fullness in the ear and some tinnitus. The hearing recovers once the vertigo has settled, but may gradually deteriorate with time. Treatment can involve medicines and, more rarely, surgery, but this will be organised by your local ENT.

Longer episodes of dizziness (days to weeks):

An infection of the inner ear (labyrinthitis) or an inflammation of the balance nerve (vestibular neuronitis) can give rise to severe rotatory dizziness for up to two to three weeks, with a slow return to normal balance which can take a further few weeks.

Again, the initial episode is often associated with vomiting and the patient can be bed-bound because the dizziness is so severe.

The treatment of vertigo is symptomatic, i.e. treatment is given to control the symptoms without regard to the specific cause of the vertigo. There are specifically targeted exercises to speed up the brain’s natural compensation after inner ear disease.

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