What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a spinning sensation of movement. The sensation feels as if either you are spinning around the room or the room around you. Vertigo is caused by inner ear problems such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s disease, Labyrinthitis or Vestibular Neuronitis.

Dizziness is a feeling of light-headedness, a fainting spell, or a sense of imbalance. Dizziness can be caused by a wide variety of causes which include (but are not limited to): low blood pressure, low blood sugar, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, medications, infection, anxiety, or alcohol.

What is a vertigo assessment?

In order to assess the cause of your symptoms your doctor will conduct a vertigo assessment. This begins with a thorough history and examination investigating the nature, onset, duration, and precipitating factors of your vertigo. A hearing test will be conducted as part of the evaluation. Depending on your doctor’s assessment, further vestibular tests or an MRI may be deemed necessary.

Labyrinthitis

What is labyrinthitis?

Labyrinthitis is inflammation or infection of labyrinth (balance organ in the inner ear). Some common symptoms of this condition include dizziness (or vertigo), feeling of imbalance, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss, nausea, or vomiting.

What causes it?

The condition is typically caused by viral infection but can also be caused by bacterial infection or autoimmune processes (where dysfunction of the body’s defence mechanism causes it produce antibodies against itself).

How can it be treated?

The condition is usually self-limiting which means it usually gets better on its own. Some of the symptoms or causes of the condition can be treated with medication to speed up recovery.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

What is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)?

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a condition that causes severe vertigo (spinning sensation in the head or sensation of the room spinning) of a few seconds to minutes duration and is exacerbated by head movements.

What causes BPPV?

The balance organ in the inner ear is called the labyrinth. It is made up of three fluid filled semi-circular canals that help regulate balance. BPPV is caused when small crystals of calcium (otoliths) break away from their normal position and float freely within these canals. There is often no obvious cause, but head trauma or inner ear infection can cause BPPV.

What are the symptoms?

Head movements (typically rolling over in bed) induces short lived (a few seconds to minutes) severe vertigo which resolves spontaneously.

How can it be treated?

BPPV is often self-limiting, which means that it often gets better on its own without treatment. If the problem persists, then your ENT doctor can perform an otolith repositioning manoeuvre called Epley’s manoeuvre which helps move the free-floating crystals back to their original position.

Meniere's Disease

What is Meniere's disease?

Meniere's disease is a condition that affects the inner ear and has an impact on balance and hearing. It can cause vertigo as well as hearing loss and ringing in the ears.  It is caused by excessive fluid in the inner ear, although the exact reason why this fluid builds up is not fully known as yet.

What are the symptoms?

Some common symptoms include vertigo (dizziness or loss of balance), fluctuating hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear). It is also commonly associated with a blocked sensation in the ear, nausea or vomiting. In order to diagnose the condition, your doctor take a detailed history about the onset of your symptoms, conduct a hearing test as well as tests for balance.

How can it be treated?

Although there is no cure for the disease, medication can be prescribed to help deal with the symptoms. Your doctor may also inject certain medication into the middle ear to help alleviate some of the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.