Many of us are familiar with the feeling of feeling dizzy while lying down on bed and then standing up suddenly. There are also times when one experiences dizziness that disrupts their balance. Why does it happen?
Dr Pawan Ojha, a senior neurologist at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis network Hospital, says this could be a sign of ‘vertigo’. “Dizziness might imply vertigo, fainting, poor body balance, or even fits. Vertigo is a type of dizziness where you feel like you are spinning. These feelings may last from a few seconds to days and often worsen with movement,” he says.
According to the doctor, vertigo is commonly caused by “disease of the vestibular system”. “The vestibular system inside the inner ear helps in sensing our head position in space relative to the body, and works in an integrated manner with the brain to maintain body position. Vertigo can result from diseases of the vestibular nerve or parts of the brain that deal with body balance.”
How big of a problem is it?
The diseases related to the inner ear and its nerve supply are generally considered less worrisome. ‘Benign positional vertigo’ often causes the most severe vertigo but can be treated easily, the doctor says.
“Another important cause of vertigo is ‘vestibular neuritis’ which occurs due to viral infection or autoimmune disease of the vestibular nerve, where vertigo, nausea, or vomiting can last up to several days. Meniere’s Disease is caused by a build-up of fluid in the inner ear tubes, causing episodic vertigo with ringing in the ears and hearing loss. The exact cause is unclear, a viral infection, an autoimmune reaction or a genetic component could be the trigger,” explains Dr Ojha.
He adds that vertigo that is caused by a brain disease should be considered worrisome and treated on an urgent basis. “Stroke is an important and serious condition causing dizziness. Apart from this, brain infection, multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism and other biochemical disturbances can cause vertigo even in the absence of fever.”
If it is a serious cause of vertigo, signs will include severe headache, persistent vomiting and imbalance, double vision, vision problems, sudden hearing loss, or early signs of brain stroke (weakness or numbness in arm or leg, face drooping to one side, trouble while speaking or swallowing). People who are 60+, with diabetes, hypertension, smoking and history of heart disease or brain stroke, should be extra careful, the doctor warns.
“Limit sodium intake, avoid caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and tobacco. If diagnosed in time, brain stroke can be efficiently treated with clot busters and/or interventional treatment. If vertigo is caused by another serious problem, such as brain tumor or injury to the brain or neck, surgical treatment might be necessary,” says Dr Ojha.