You can very suddenly be knocked off your feet by vertigo. Frequently, nausea and dizziness are the first symptoms of vertigo. But severe vertigo can confuse the world to such an extent that it’s difficult to get from your bed to the couch.
It may be tempting to automatically blame vertigo on a problem with the eyes or brain. This might seem logical because it’s your brain that makes you feel sick and your eyes that can’t see straight.
But it’s likely to be your ears that are the source of the problem, not your eyes.
Your Ears Are Essential For Balance
Many people identify vertigo as a feeling akin to losing one’s balance. Everything feels like it’s spinning despite the fact that the ground is solid. And the blame most likely lies deep inside your ear, in an area unimaginatively (but accurately) called the inner ear. Inside of your inner ear, there are tiny canals that hold both fluid and tiny hairs.
Based on the location of the fluid in your ears, your brain can ascertain the orientation of your body. Usually, this system works very well, so you know which way is up and which way is down, regardless of what direction your head is pointing.
That is, until the system fails. When this system breaks down or is disrupted, your brain can’t understand the signals. This will result in vertigo.
What’s The Cause of Your Vertigo
If vertigo is coming from your inner ear, there are a number of likely causes.
Middle ear fluid: A buildup of fluid in your middle ear can cause the whole system to go wonky and send confusing messages to your brain. This fluid accumulation can occur for several reasons (such as an ear infection). If this is the source of your vertigo, you could also find sounds to be muffled, as though you are underwater.
Dislodged middle ear crystals: In order to help you recognize movement, your middle ear has little crystals. These crystals can occasionally get displaced and go into the inner ear which can then result in loss of balance, nausea, and vertigo. If your vertigo comes and goes for seconds at a time or when you turn your head, it’s these crystals that are the likely cause (a condition known as BPPV).
Meniere’s Disease: This disorder of the middle ear can affect both hearing and balance. Symptoms include vertigo (and corresponding nausea), loss of hearing, and potentially migraines. Your hearing specialist may be able to suggest therapies to manage the symptoms of Menier’s as it slowly progresses.
Vestibular Neuritis: When your vertigo is severe and constant, it’s likely you might be dealing with something called vestibular neuritis. This is a swelling of the nerve in your inner ear. Vestibular neuritis is “self-limiting” because most experts believe it’s related to a virus or something similar. Typically, it goes away after a few days or weeks.
There may be other reasons, besides these, for your nausea or vertigo. And there are other issues you can get in your middle ear which could cause these symptoms. But they’re common enough, and they give you an idea of how the middle ear can cause havoc with your sense of balance when something isn’t right.
Is There Anything You Can do?
So if you’re dizzy or are experiencing vertigo, what can you do? Come in and let us help you figure it out.