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5 Common Signs of Vertigo

One of the most common symptoms that prompts people to visit a physician is dizziness. Also called vertigo, it’s as prevalent among patients’ complaints as back pain or headaches, affecting up to about 20% of adults in the United States. 

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is among the primary causes of vertigo, and while it’s usually harmless in itself, it can nonetheless be a serious condition for some because it’s a leading cause of falls.  

We take vertigo seriously at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates. Dizziness and vertigo often trace back to an inner ear issue, part of your body’s vestibular system. When signals from your inner ear don’t match perceptions of other body systems, vertigo develops. 

Types of vertigo

There are two general types of vertigo: peripheral vertigo and central vertigo. Peripheral vertigo traces back to the inner ear or the vestibular nerve. BPPV is a form of peripheral vertigo, as are conditions like labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease, and vestibular neuritis. 

Central vertigo is a neurological condition resulting from an event affecting your brain. This includes traumatic brain injuries including concussion, infections, or stroke. 

While it’s rare for vertigo to be the only symptom of a stroke, this can happen, so episodes of vertigo lasting longer than 30 minutes should be treated as a medical emergency. Most vertigo episodes are of a short duration. 

Causes of BPPV

It’s often not clear what causes BPPV, making it what physicians refer to as an idiopathic condition. Identifiable causes range from blows to the head, damage to the inner ear, or long periods of time spent awake and on your back. 

A physical condition in the inner ear itself can contribute to BPPV. There are three semicircular canals within the inner ear. These are filled with fluid and tiny hair-like sensors that detect movement and head position. 

Tiny crystals in the inner ear help to detect gravity, so your body knows which way is down. When these crystals stray from their ordinary location into the semicircular canals (often when you’re lying down), they can produce confusing signals about the orientation of your head, resulting in BPPV. 

5 common signs of vertigo

Dizziness isn’t the only clue that you have vertigo or BPPV. Other signs include: 

You may experience these symptoms alone or in combination. 

Episodes of vertigo may be no cause for concern if they’re occasional and don’t lead to falls. Recurring, prolonged, or severe vertigo attacks, or episodes that make you dizzy enough to potentially fall should be diagnosed medically. 

Contact the vertigo professionals at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates in Lawrence and Ottawa to investigate your symptoms in depth. You can book your visit at each location by phone or online. Play it safe and make an appointment today.

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