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Dizziness and Vertigo

Dizziness and vertigo is second only to low back pain in frequency of occurrence. Approximately 76 million Americans will complain to the physicians of dizziness at least once in their lifetime.


Dizziness is not a disease but rather a symptom of a peripheral or central nervous system problem.  Vertigo is also a symptom used to describe the illusion of movement in a rotating fashion.


Any unexplained or severe dizziness warrants a visit to your doctor. Once it has been determined that the symptoms are not the result of a cardiac or neurological disorder, an assessment of the vestibular system may be necessary. The vestibular system is made up of a peripheral sensory apparatus in the inner ear, a central processor, the brain, and a mechanism for motor output.


The vestibular system is responsible for providing us with a sense of balance and movement. Your sense of balance relies on several images sent to your brain from different locations. Your eyes process visual signals that help you determine where your body is relative  to your surroundings. The sensory nerves in you skin, muscles and joints relay messages to your brain about your movements. And then there’s the inner ear, which sends signals to the part of the brain, that controls eye movement so that the image you’re looking at stays in focus. It also lets your brain know if you’re moving.


When the vestibular system is not functioning properly, it can cause a variety of symptoms such as dizziness, unsteadiness, vertigo and nausea. The interaction between the vestibular system and the central nervous system may affect vision, muscles, memory and concentration. This may result in other symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches in the neck and back, and increase incidences of motion sickness. At times the cervical spine may also be a source of dizziness especially in post whiplash trauma.   


Some common causes of vertigo include:

  • Meniere’s disease. This occurs when fluid builds up in your ear(s). This typically includes “ringing” in your ear and sudden waves of intense dizziness that may last for hours. You may also experience momentary hearing losses.

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is the most common cause of vertigo. It occurs when the tiny calcium crystals located in the otolith of your inner ear become dislodged and move to the semicircular canal of the inner ear.   This can cause sudden spinning sensations (vertigo) and inner-ear discomfort.

  • Migraines. Migraines can impact your vestibular system, thus causing episodes of vertigo which may be coupled with a sensitivity to light or sound. Vision may also be impaired.

  • Stroke. A stroke affects movement in your whole body. If you recently suffered a stroke, you may experience waves of vertigo which may linger for extended periods of time. 

  • Vestibular neuritis. This is an infection of the inner ear , often caused by a virus, that damages your inner ear. This often occurs suddenly with severe symptoms lasting a couple days. Some improvement occurs but your symptoms never resolve leaving you with dizziness, imbalance and trouble with busy visual environments.


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be living with a vestibular problem:

  • Blurred vision

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Inability to concentrate or remain alert

  • Difficulty seeing

  • anxiety

  • Abnormal eye movements

  • imbalance

  • rocking/swaying

  • spinning


Get back on your feet today

If you are experiencing either of these conditions, contact us to schedule an appointment today. We will help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.

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