Vertigo

Vertigo means you feel like you or your surroundings are moving when they are not. Vertigo can be dangerous if it occurs when you are at work, driving, or performing difficult activities.

CAUSES

Vertigo occurs when there is a conflict of signals sent to your brain from the visual and sensory systems in your body. There are many different causes of vertigo, including:

  • Infections, especially in the inner ear.

  • A bad reaction to a drug or misuse of alcohol and medicines.

  • Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.

  • Rapidly changing positions, such as lying down or rolling over in bed.

  • A migraine headache.

  • Decreased blood flow to the brain.

  • Increased pressure in the brain from a head injury, infection, tumor, or bleeding.

SYMPTOMS

You may feel as though the world is spinning around or you are falling to the ground. Because your balance is upset, vertigo can cause nausea and vomiting. You may have involuntary eye movements (nystagmus).

DIAGNOSIS

Vertigo is usually diagnosed by physical exam. If the cause of your vertigo is unknown, your caregiver may perform imaging tests, such as an MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging).

TREATMENT

Most cases of vertigo resolve on their own, without treatment. Depending on the cause, your caregiver may prescribe certain medicines. If your vertigo is related to body position issues, your caregiver may recommend movements or procedures to correct the problem. In rare cases, if your vertigo is caused by certain inner ear problems, you may need surgery.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Follow your caregiver's instructions.

  • Avoid driving.

  • Avoid operating heavy machinery.

  • Avoid performing any tasks that would be dangerous to you or others during a vertigo episode.

  • Tell your caregiver if you notice that certain medicines seem to be causing your vertigo. Some of the medicines used to treat vertigo episodes can actually make them worse in some people.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your medicines do not relieve your vertigo or are making it worse.

  • You develop problems with talking, walking, weakness, or using your arms, hands, or legs.

  • You develop severe headaches.

  • Your nausea or vomiting continues or gets worse.

  • You develop visual changes.

  • A family member notices behavioral changes.

  • Your condition gets worse.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.