Vertigo, which often occurs due to a problem in the body's internal balance system and presents with complaints such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting, could be a symptom of other more serious diseases or disorders. Rapidly developing vertigo is often relatively less worrisome; yet if it develops slowly, it may be a symptom of potentially serious health problems.
Health Sciences University (SBU) faculty member and otorhinolaryngology specialist professor Dr. İbrahim Engin Çekin stated that vertigo is a sense of spinning dizziness where the person with vertigo has a sense that his head, or his surrounding environment, or both, are moving or spinning even though there is no actual movement around him.
According to Çekin, this situation arises as a result of an illusion created by organs that monitor our sense of movement. While dizziness is experienced in all types of vertigo, all types of dizziness cannot be classified as vertigo.
Emphasizing that dizziness has a wide range of causes, Çekin iterated that vertigo is often accompanied by loss of balance, nausea and vomiting but not a loss of consciousness. Upon examination, doctors almost always detect involuntary eye movements called nystagmus in those who experience vertigo, he added.
Indicating that the disease could be benign or very severe, and its occurrence could develop quickly or slowly, Çekin said that vertigo is often accompanied by various other complaints. Generally, rapidly developing vertigo is mostly associated with relatively minor diseases, while the variation which develops slowly is likely to be caused by insidious and potentially serious illnesses. As far as symptoms go, it generally presents in two main classes: central and peripheral.
The majority of patients admitted to the hospital with vertigo complaints have peripheral vertigo, and the majority of them have Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), popularly known as dislodged crystals in the ear.
Pointing out that there are many types of BPPV, Çekin explained that although it isn't life threatening, it can make those who suffer from it very uncomfortable. The panic accompanied by the bad feelings caused by excessive nausea and vomiting related to the dizziness could also lead to other symptoms such as high blood pressure and excessive sweating. In such cases, it is difficult to find out what causes what and the sense of panic in person could increase further. In addition, hearing complaints such as ringing and fullness in the ear or hearing loss could accompany vertigo.
Çekin further remarked that although the symptoms are generally less severe with central vertigo, the reason behind the condition could be a more serious disease and underlying vascular-neurological causes should be investigated, adding: "The accompanying symptoms are more serious. Complaints such as loss of strength and sensation, speech disorders, mental fog and paralysis could occur simultaneously or before or after vertigo. Usually, there are no complaints or findings regarding hearing. Since it is not possible for the person to self-diagnose, he should visit a health institution as soon as possible. A simple checkup could be sufficient for diagnosis, but advanced methods such as extensive hearing tests, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging could be required.
Pointing out that the causes of peripheral vertigo are treated by otorhinolaryngology specialists, Çekin said specialists in many other areas, especially neurology, could also play a role in the treatment of the causes of central vertigo.
Highlighting that the treatment is planned according to the underlying cause, Çekin continued: "In BPPV types, treatment from specialist could result in miraculous improvement, while infections and vascular disorders could require more extensive treatment. As a result, vertigo is an important symptom that should be examined by a physician, regardless of how it arises, and many areas of expertise could be needed in its treatment. Treatment is sometimes very simple and short-term, and sometimes requires patience in addition to a number of changes in lifestyle and additional measures. What matters is the correct diagnosis and the proper treatment."
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