Vertigo is a type of dizziness wherein the person feels a spinning motion, despite being stationary. Vertigo is a more severe form of dizziness because it can lead to difficulties in ambulation and is also associated with nausea and vomiting. Most commonly, vertigo is associated with an ear condition, but other causes can also lead to such. Vertigo can be objective, subjective or pseudo vertigo in type.

Major causes of vertigo involve problems in the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance. More specific causes of vertigo can be any one of the following conditions:

  • Labyrinthitis

Inflammation of the labyrinth in the inner ear is a usual cause of vertigo because the labyrinth is the one responsible for balance in the first place. When vertigo is accompanied by nausea and vomiting and the vertigo occurs after a head movement, labyrinthitis is commonly suspected. This condition can be due to bacterial or viral infection and may occur along with fever.

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

BPPV is more common among elderly individuals. It can be caused by a blow in the head, ear surgery and prolonged lying down. BPPV is commonly experienced by individuals who are seemingly healthy with no ear conditions. BPPV is also short-lived and can go away within a few days.

  • Vestibular migraine

Migraine attacks can be accompanied by vertigo and some patients may feel vertigo more often than other migraine symptoms. Migraine accompanied by vertigo is seen as more severe and may persist throughout patients’ lifetime.

  • Concussion injuries

Any injury to the head that leads to the jarring of the brain inside the skull can lead to vertigo as a result of cerebellar affectation.

  • Meniere’s disease

This condition involves the dysfunction in the semi-circular canals located in the inner ear. Meniere’s disease is characterized by a triad of symptoms including vertigo, tinnitus and loss of hearing. It can also develop nausea and vomiting as well as abnormal eye movements. Hearing loss also commonly leads to permanent hearing defect.

  • Vestibular neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is the inflammation of the vestibular nerve located in the inner ear. The vestibule is responsible for sending signals to the brain regarding balance so any inflammation in the area can lead to vertigo.

  • Acoustic neuroma

Acoustic neuroma involves the development of a benign tumor on the acoustic nerve. The tumor can actually affect the performance of the acoustic nerve leading to vertigo.

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption to the point of severe drunkenness can lead to vertigo because of poor nerve impulse transmissions to the brain affecting the balance and coordination.

  • Chronic otitis media

The presence of long-term infection in the middle ear can have affectation of the inner ear as well. When the infection spreads to the inner ear, the affectation of the inner ear structures such as the vestibule and labyrinth can lead to vertigo.

  • Dehydration and hypovolemia

Dehydration and a reduction in the blood volume and blood pressure may lead to poor circulation to the brain causing dizziness and vertigo.

Other causes may involve the use of medications such as salicylates, motion sickness and the presence of earthquakes.

The management of vertigo depends on the causative factor; thereby, correct diagnosis is very important for the management of vertigo.