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Vertigo Signs and Symptoms You Should Know

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It's important to note that vertigo itself is not a disease. Rather, it is a symptom caused by an underlying condition either in your inner ear or your brain.

That being said, vertigo is a kind of dizziness that occurs even if you're not doing anything or if you're just making slight movements. Its duration and intensity differ depending on your actual condition, which can be accompanied by other symptoms as well.

The Different Symptoms of Peripheral Vertigo

Peripheral vertigo is the most common type of vertigo, and is caused by a problem in your inner ear. The following describes its underlying causes and the other symptoms they come with:1

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV is a malfunction in your inner ear due to calcium carbonate crystals disrupting the flow of fluid in your inner ear canals. The vertigo associated with BPPV is short and intense, and recurs often. Aside from this, you may experience the following symptoms:

Lightheadedness

Nausea

Vomiting (albeit rare)

Brief, uncontrollable eye movement (nystagmus)

Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is a condition characterized by an inflammation in your labyrinth, a maze of fluid-filled canals in your inner ear that play a role in your hearing and balance.

Due to the inflammation, the auditory signals sent to your brain don't match up with the visual signals sent by your eyes, inducing vertigo. Additional symptoms of labyrinthitis include:2

Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the affected ear)

Loss of hearing in the high-frequency range

Difficulty focusing your eyes

Loss of balance

Nausea

Vomiting

Meniere's Disease

Meniere's disease is believed to be caused by an abnormal amount of fluid in your inner ear. Other factors linked to the development of this condition include migraines, viral infections, allergies and heredity.3 The vertigo caused by Meniere's disease typically stops and starts spontaneously, and can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Watch out for these symptoms as well:4

Hearing loss that comes and goes

Pressure on the affected ear

Tinnitus

If the vertigo induced is severe, nausea and vomiting may happen

Vestibular Neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is caused by an inflammation in your vestibular nerve, a component of your inner ear that handles your body's ability to balance.5 Viruses like influenza, herpes, hepatitis and measles may cause the inflammation, but bacteria may do so as well.6

The vertigo brought on by vestibular neuritis typically lasts for a couple of hours, and it usually takes three to six weeks for the inflammation to settle and the symptoms to subside. Your hearing isn't affected, but nausea and vomiting may occur.7

Symptoms of Central Vertigo May Indicate a Brain Problem

Central vertigo is a type of vertigo caused by a problem in a part of your brain, such as the brainstem or the cerebellum. The following conditions may cause vertigo, as well as other symptoms you should be aware of:

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

In multiple sclerosis, your immune system attacks your nervous system, causing inflammation in your myelin, the protective layer of your nerve cells. As a result, problems in muscle coordination may occur and you may experience loss of movement. Depending on the severity of the inflammation, the vertigo MS causes may last for hours or days. It may be accompanied by:8

Visual disturbances

Tinnitus

Difficulty standing or walking

Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic neuroma occurs when a tumor grows deep in the main nerve of your inner ear, which puts pressure on the adjacent blood vessels and nerves. Along with vertigo, acoustic neuroma may cause loss of balance and induce gradual hearing loss, but in some cases the onset may be sudden. Tinnitus and facial numbness may also occur.9

Brain Tumor

A brain tumor may cause varying symptoms, including vertigo, depending on where it grows.10 The following symptoms may appear as well:11

Persistent nausea, vomiting and drowsiness

Seizures

Memory problems

Personality changes

Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body

Visit Your Doctor Immediately When You Experience Vertigo

If you experience a gradual or sudden onset of vertigo with only slight body movements, visit your doctor immediately. This could indicate that you have a problem in your inner ear or an inflammation in your brain that needs to be addressed right away.

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