Feeling Dizzy? Find Out if it is Vertigo

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Feeling Dizzy? Find Out if it is Vertigo

Last updated: Monday, April 12, 2021 | 5 min reading time

Think you have a 'vertigo sickness'? Vertigo is actually a symptom, and not an illness. Learn the causes and treatment of vertigo, and how to tell if it is a sign of something more serious.

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a symptom, and not a condition in itself, even though some individuals may term the experience as a 'vertigo sickness'.

It is a sensation where you, or your surroundings, appear to be moving or spinning around in circles. This happens while you're stationary in one spot.

You may also experience:

These symptoms may range in severity, from barely noticeable to an intensity that makes it difficult to continue your daily routine. Vertigo can develop suddenly and last briefly for a few seconds to several days in severe cases.

What causes vertigo?

Vertigo is often caused by a problem in the way balance works in the inner ear. In some instances, it can also be triggered by problems in certain parts of the brain.

Vertigo can fall into either one of 2 categories:

Peripheral vertigo

Peripheral vertigo commonly occurs when there is an interference with the small sensory organs in the inner ear responsible for sensing gravity and sending information about the head's position to the brain. Around 93% of vertigo cases are due to peripheral vertigo.

These are most common causes of this condition:
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Central vertigo

Central vertigo can occur when there is a disorder in one or more parts of the brain that controls the nervous system. Central vertigo can be the result of a sports-related head injury, brain tumour, viral infection, or a stroke. The symptoms generally last longer and are more intense compared to peripheral vertigo, although hearing isn't typically affected. Below are the different types of vertigo associated with the central nervous system:
Acoustic neuroma

Am I at risk of vertigo?

Some people are more prone to experiencing vertigo than others. The risk of developing vertigo is much higher if you:

How is vertigo diagnosed?

Tests for vertigo
People with true vertigo will experience the room around them spinning. Feeling faint or light-headed is usually described as dizziness.

Your doctor will question you about your symptoms, carry out a physical examination, and may use one of the following tests supported by imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans.

You may need one or more tests or procedures to help your doctor learn more about your underlying condition. Some of these tests are usually performed in a dark room to trigger vertigo.

How to treat and cure vertigo?

The type of treatments administered depends on the cause of your vertigo. In most cases, you will be advised to take bed rest along with medication for the underlying causes of your vertigo.

The most popular types of medication that alleviate vertigo are vestibular blocking agents.

If you have been diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), your doctor will teach you a specific movement called the Epley repositioning manoeuvre, which loosens the calcium crystals and clears them from your ear canal.

Surgery is also an option if none of these treatments work or if your symptoms become too severe.

How to ease vertigo symptoms

If you are experiencing a vertigo attack, there are a few things you can do to ease the symptoms and to reduce the number of episodes you have:

When should I see a doctor?

When to see a doctor
See a doctor if you experience frequent episodes of vertigo. Vertigo can make you unsteady, which may put you at risk of falling. While vertigo is usually not harmful, you may want to identify the root problem and have it treated.

The warning signs of serious complications from vertigo include:

If you are experiencing these abnormal symptoms, seek immediate help by going to the nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department or call for an ambulance.

During a medical emergency in Singapore, you can also call +65 6473 2222 for an ambulance that will transport you to the nearest hospital or a hospital of your choice. Learn more about Parkway Emergency services.

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Accident & emergency