If you lump all feelings of dizziness under the term “vertigo”, then there are too many varieties of vertigo cause to count. However, before asking yourself what causes vertigo, you must ask yourself, “Is this actually vertigo I’m experiencing?”
Is This Vertigo?
Somewhere along the line, the general public began referring to all things dizzy-related as Vertigo. It was unintentional. It became convenient. But more than anything, it was a mistake that causes more problems than solutions.
Why is this such a problem?
Because vertigo is one very small sliver of the types of dizziness one can experience. For example, here’s a partial list of the many types of dizziness:
- Vertigo – false sensation of rotational spinning
- Imbalance – confusion between motor function and environment
- Unsteadiness – lacking coordination, like two left feet
- Disequilibrium – the sensation of impending fall, sometimes described that the floor is titled or a feeling of floating
- Spatial Disorientation – when you cannot get your bearings right in space, such as not understanding how near or far an object is from you
Each of these types of dizziness is unique. Unfortunately, by referring to any dizziness problem as vertigo, you pigeonhole your symptoms instantly.
This isn’t an issue if you’re being treated by a Vestibular Audiologist because it’s our job to dig deeper than the surface and pinpoint the exact dizzy symptoms.
However, most dizzy patients first visit their primary care physician or urgent care. And not all doctors are well-trained in the nuances of the vestibular (balance) system.
When most general doctors hear “vertigo”, they think of BPPV. And they’ll put you down a path of BPPV treatment, whether or not you have it.
We’re only writing this because it happens A LOT. We hear it from our patients all the time.
So, this is your PSA to analyze and take note of your dizzy symptoms in great detail, as it greatly improves your chances of getting the right diagnosis and the right treatment.
Now, on to why you're reading this article: Vertigo Causes.
Whereas general dizziness can be caused by anything from low blood pressure to dehydration, there are only a couple of sources of true rotational vertigo. Both the vestibular system and the central nervous system, when damaged or malfunctioning, can be vertigo causes.
Generally, we classify problems in the vestibular system as Peripheral Vertigo. And we classify problems in the central nervous system (brain, brain stem, neck) as Central Vertigo. (More on Peripheral vs. Central Vertigo here)
The vestibular system is responsible for our everyday balance. It takes input from our eyes, our muscles (sense of touch on the ground), and instruments in our inner ear – creating balance from the consensus of all three sources.
If any part of the vestibular system is damaged, malfunctioning, or not communicating, then dizziness or vertigo can be symptoms you’ll experience. Just like what we found wrong with Mark Cuban.
Some of the conditions that develop from the vestibular system include:
- BPPV – Malfunctioning inner ear fluid and displaced “ear crystals” (otoconia).
- Meniere’s Disease – Debatable cause, recent research suggests possible immune disease but symptoms include ear fullness, vertigo, and tinnitus.
- Vestibular Neuritis – Infection in the inner ear, specifically an inflamed vestibular nerve.
- Labyrinthitis – Infection in the inner ear, specifically an inflamed vestibular nerve and cochlear nerve.
- Post-Concussion Syndrome – Prolonged concussion symptoms.
- MdDS – Debatable cause, the recent theory is from a variant of motion sickness. Feeling of rocking or swaying as if on a boat but on land.
- Vestibular Migraine – Nervous system problem that causes a “misunderstanding” in the vestibular system.
On the other hand, vertigo can also be a symptom of more serious conditions, such as a neck injury, stroke, neurological problems, heart problems, etc.
Central Vertigo is accompanied by a few other telltale symptoms. Namely, Slurred speech, Double vision, Confusion, Chest pain, Fainting, Seizures, among others.
Therefore, ensuring your vertigo isn’t from something serious must be the first order of business.
Long story short, determining the source of your vertigo is not a task to tackle on your own. You need the resources, the expertise, and the testing equipment of a Vestibular Audiologist (a vestibular balance specialist).
As you can see from above, there are many causes of vertigo. And you cannot play the guessing game on your own. Each condition or cause of vertigo has a different treatment process. And trying to relieve your vertigo on your own is a futile task.
Our team of Vestibular Audiologists at the Dizzy & Vertigo Institute is here to help!
We offer in-person and telehealth appointments in order to treat you in the way that is most comfortable to you.
Start your vertigo treatment process today by scheduling an appointment here or calling us at (310) 954-2207.
We look forward to hearing from you!