Vertigo

What is Vertigo?

Suddenly, you are dizzy, as though the room were spinning, and you feel a bit nauseous. Is this something serious or just part of the aging process? Your otolaryngologist at Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of South Florida in Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, and Okeechobee, FL can tell you if your symptoms are a benign kind of vertigo or something more. Dr. Leslie Berghash, Dr. John Lanza, Dr. Jesse Phillips and Dr. Camysha Wright understand the complex reasons behind this disorder of the inner ear, or labyrinth, and can pinpoint why you feel dizzy and off balance.

Most vertigo relates to the ear

Although some dizziness is related to medications, carotid artery blockage or spinal cord and brain injury, the vast majority of people with vertigo have Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV. Benign indicates that this condition has no sinister, or serious, causes such as brain cancer, and paroxysmal means that the dizziness happens episodically with no real rhyme or reason.

While many people believe the balance has to do with leg strength, the ability to stay vertically oriented when sitting, standing and walking really originates in the inner ear. The labyrinth and three boney semi-circular canals have fluid and crystals called otoliths. When these crystals move into incorrect positions within the labyrinth, vertigo is the presenting symptom. A drop in hearing, nausea and vomiting may occur as well in more extreme cases.

Why BPPV happens

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, most BPPV is age-related (occurring in people 65 and older). Other predisposing factors include Meniere's Disease, allergies, and certain medications. Sometimes, people get BPPV after a cold or stomach virus. Overall, symptoms typically resolve within a week or two.

Testing and treatment in Fort Pierce, Okeechobee and Port St. Lucie

As needed, your ear, nose and throat specialist may wish to rule out more serious conditions such as carotid artery blockage or stroke. As such, they may order an MRI or ultrasound test to visualize structures and blood flow in the brain and major arteries of the head.

If your doctor believes you have BPPV, they may perform some positional exercises to help those crystalline otoliths move to better positions in the inner ear so that you do not experience vertigo and so your body can more readily absorb the calcium content. Additionally, they may perform other tests which stimulate the inner ear and attempt recreate the conditions in which dizziness happens.

A word of caution

Vertigo may accompany a stroke or other cardiovascular event such as a heart attack. If you experience numbness or tingling on one side of the body, have chest pains or palpitations, lose consciousness or have difficulty with speech, get to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Find out more

The professional team at ENTSF in Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, and Okeechobee, FL can help you understand your vertigo and overcome it. For a personal consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate physicians, contact the office nearest you.