Saanichton, BC

Dr. Miguel A. Lipka

Vertigo

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Vertigo is a false sensation that you or your surroundings are moving. The sensation is best described as spinning, whirling or moving vertically or horizontally. Vertigo attacks may be constant or sporadic and can last from seconds to days. The symptoms are due to a dysfunction of the vestibular system in the inner ear.

Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • Nystagmus - abnormal or involuntary eye movements
  • Diplopia - blurred vision
  • Dysarthria - difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Ataxic gait - difficulty walking
  • Fainting or feeling faint
  • Hearing loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Oscillopsia - other visual disturbances
  • Diaphoresis - sweating
  • Tinnitus
  • Weakness or numbness

Medical professionals can sometimes misinterpret a patient's description of vertigo symptoms. To obtain the correct diagnosis, it's essential to give an accurate description of your symptoms.

About 5% of the population has vertigo at some point during the year and 7.4% are affected at some point in their lives. It accounts for about 2-3 % of emergency department visits. Vertigo occurs about two to three times more frequently in women than in men and in the elderly as opposed to younger people.

Recurrent episodes in those with vertigo is common and they frequently impair the quality of life.

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the vertigo. Some treatments include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is treated with the Epley maneuver (performed by a doctor or physical therapist, or with a BPPV maneuver at home).
  • Anticholinergics -- a class of medications that inhibit parasympathetic nerve impulses. The nerve fibers of the parasympathetic system are responsible for the involuntary movements of smooth muscles present in the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, lungs, etc.
  • Antihistamines