Is Vertigo Dangerous?
Just about every dizzy patient we’ve seen at the Dizzy & Vertigo Institute recounts their first vertigo experience as extremely frightening. Thrown into an unexpected spiral with no understanding of why it started or when it will end. This unfamiliar experience eventually ends, but for some, comes back again like a boomerang a few days, months, or years later. This leaves many of them wondering “is vertigo dangerous?”
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is complicated. In fact, there are many answers to that question.
Is Vertigo Dangerous?
There are two reasons that you would ask this question:
- You’re scared and want to know if something bad may come from vertigo.
- You want to confirm vertigo is not dangerous, so you can just let it go and not do anything about it.
First and foremost, you should never leave your dizziness or vertigo untreated. (Read our article on The 3 Dangers of Leaving Your Vertigo Untreated.)
Furthermore, you must understand that there are many sources of vertigo. And the source of your vertigo is what dictates the severity of your situation.
For instance, there was a study of 9,000 people who admitted themselves to the emergency room because of their dizziness. Of that group, about ⅓ of them had vertigo causes resulting from problems in their inner ear. The other ⅔ had problems neurologically, cardiovascularly, or a range of other sources.
Inner ear vertigo, also known as Peripheral Vertigo, is generally not dangerous or life-threatening. Unless of course the vertigo comes when you’re driving down the highway at 70 mph. But that’s a different story.
On the other hand, Central Vertigo is the more serious cause of vertigo. Central Vertigo results from problems in your central nervous system, specifically the brain and nerve structure. Central Vertigo is linked with serious conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumor. So yes, in this case, vertigo can be quite dangerous. And you should seek the emergency room immediately. (Read about the Warning Signs of Central Vertigo.)
The problem, though, is that you don’t know where your vertigo is coming from. And that’s where we come in.
What Should I Do?
You need to seek medical clearance from your primary care physician to rule out any bad or scary causes first. This might include bedside examinations, blood work or imaging.
For most the next step should be to rule out the inner ear from a Vestibular Audiologist, as these are the specialists in vestibular related conditions. With so many causes of vertigo and the fact that it might not even be vertigo you’re experiencing, a Vestibular Audiologist is the most well-equipped doctor to discern what is going wrong in your vestibular (inner ear balance) system.
Regardless of the source of your vertigo, whether it’s peripheral or central, there are dangers of leaving it untreated. Financial costs, emotional and relationship costs, work-related costs, the list goes on.
Dr. Google is only going to get you so far. In fact, it may lead you down the wrong path.
Therefore, you need to be properly diagnosed. The doctors with the right equipment for the job (most frequently Vestibular Audiologists) have scientific processes for analyzing the common places in our bodies that cause vertigo/dizziness.
If you or someone you know suffers from constant or frequent vertigo, then please reach out to us at (310) 954-2207 or by filling out our contact form.
We look forward to helping you back to a dizzy-free life!