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Vertigo, sometimes called motion sickness is not a condition it is a specific symptom and there is usually a underlying condition causing vertigo. It makes you feel dizzy and that everything around you is spinning, so affecting your balance. An attack can last for anything from a few seconds to hours. In severe cases it can last for days.


What causes Vertigo?

The most common cause is a problem with the inner ear, this could be caused by the following:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) –  this is more common in older people and causes intense dizziness when the head is moved in certain directions. This occurs when tiny particles build up in the inner ear canal.
  • Labyrinthisis – this is a inner ear infection usually caused by the cold or flu virus.
  • Ménière’s disease – this is a progressive disease that can cause intense dizziness that usually comes in attacks. It usually affects your hearing  as well and you might have tinnitus.
  • Migraine – vertigo might be the only symptom some people experience and you may have no headache.
  • Medications

On rare occasions it can be caused by stroke, brain tumour or multiple sclerosis.

What are the symptoms of Vertigo?

The most common symptom is dizziness, the dizziness can make you feel like your surroundings are moving or spinning. Symptoms of dizziness can be so bad you also feel sick or even be sick. You may also experience a loss of balance. If your vertigo is caused by an inner ear problem then you may also experience problems with your hearing.

If you have a vertigo attack, try to stay in a quiet, darkened room and sit down when you feel dizzy.

How is Vertigo diagnosed?

Your doctor will probably begin by talking to you about your symptoms. They might carry out a test to check your balance. Your doctor might refer you to a specialist for further tests, such as scans and hearing tests.

How is Vertigo treated?

The treatment will depend on the cause and in most cases vertigo will get better without the need for treatment.  However, if an infection is the cause your doctor might prescribe a course of antibiotics.

Cinnarizine is a antihistamine drug used to treat motion sickness and may also help to treat feelings of dizziness and sickness.

If a migraine is the cause then the treatment would be the same as that to manage migraine, avoiding anything that might trigger an attack and painkillers.

Your doctor may show you some exercises to do to help correct your balance.  It might help you if you move your neck slowly, avoid bending down to pick things up, get out of bed slowly in the morning.

Further Information

For more information from the NHS click here.

For further information about Menieres Disease click here.