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Which Conditions can Make Your Head Spin?

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Which Conditions can Make Your Head Spin?

Vertigo is a sense of the surrounding spinning, rocking or rotating even if you are perfectly still and holding fast to your place. Many people use dizziness to describe similar sort of symptoms including walking difficulty, balance disorders or light-headedness. Which means, the term dizziness is used interchangeably to describe vertigo by many people. However, medical experts define vertigo as a specific condition associated with the balance centre of the inner ear and brain.

Vertigo can upset both your balance and stomach: When you feel the space around you is spinning, it can make you off balance and most importantly upset your tummy as well. The conditions that affect your brain can cause vertigo, but most often vertigo is caused by the conditions that affect your inner ear. Let us understand the causes of vertigo.


The fluid-filled channels deep inside your ear get infected with flu or cold virus and by bacteria as well. The labyrinth is a complex system of interconnecting cavities concerned with hearing and equilibrium. This usually helps in keeping balance. The infected channels may swell up and disturb your brain – which in turn causes vertigo. The symptoms associated with this condition include ringing in ears (tinnitus), hearing loss, vomiting and fever. If the reason for this condition is a bacterial infection, then you may need antibiotics.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is a condition in which you feel dizzy and sometimes nauseated and involuntarily move your eyes back and forth. When you stand or turn, you may feel dizziness and spinning of the head. This condition can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and stops on its own. However, if you experience any of such symptoms, then your ENT surgeon will treat you with some deliberate and coordinated movements and exercise – if required, with medicines as well.

Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s Disease is associated with tinnitus and dizziness with a progressive hearing loss in one ear (unilateral). It is the disease of the inner ear.

The affected individual may have a feeling of pressure in the ear. Though the condition is very rare, vertigo associated with it is a bit serious – which may last from a few minutes to several hours. The patient may also have nausea and vomiting. The symptoms and episodes of dizziness can be cut down with proper treatment, diet plans and balance exercises.

Perilymph Fistula (PLF)

Head injury or trauma or sometimes a blow to the head can disturb the tissue that divides fluid-filled inner ear and air-filled middle ear. Owing to which, the affected person feels off balance – and may get sensitive to loud noises. The other symptoms may include fullness, pressure and ringing in the ears. During flight due to changes in air pressure, the symptoms can become worst. ENT specialist will recommend bed rest, which will allow the condition to subside. In some cases, surgery may be required, especially when the condition persists for longer than a few months.

Vestibular Neuronitis

In some cases, the cause of your vertigo or dizziness can be vestibular neuronitis or vestibular neuritis. It is an infection caused by a virus that causes swelling of the vestibular nerve. This nerve connects the inner ear to the brain. The symptoms may include unsteadiness, dizziness, upset stomach and vertigo. The symptoms can last for up to a few hours and may also be up to a few days – in some cases, as long as 15 to 20 days as well. The affected individual can get better on his own but may sometimes require treatment. However, it is better to take rest when the symptoms get worst.

The Other Causes of Vertigo

Medicines: Some medicines can be the cause of vertigo – the list includes blood pressure medicines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines and anticonvulsant medicines.

Traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, vestibular migraine, brain stroke and tumours of the brain and spinal cord can also cause vertigo.

Risk factors for Vertigo

Ear infections, side effects of medicines, head injuries and ear infections that impact the vestibular nerve (labyrinthitis), high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and drinking alcohol are the risk factors for vertigo.

Bottom Line

Vertigo can be grossly classified into two groups – central and peripheral. The peripheral vertigo is caused by the inner ear diseases while the central cause of vertigo arises in the brain or the spinal cord. Peripheral vertigo is treated by an ENT specialist – while the central vertigo is treated by a neurologist. Furthermore, Vertigo can also be due to some more serious underlying conditions such as neck injury, brain injury, stroke and brain tumours. Hence vertigo management is a team approach. These patients need a detailed assessment by clinicians.and they are treated by therapists.

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