Learn more about vertigo and its symptoms and treatments.
Many people feel lightheaded or dizzy on occasion. Minor illnesses like sinus congestion or an ear infection can slightly throw off your balance and make you feel wobbly for a few moments. For the most part, however, this minor dizziness does not interrupt your daily life. When you are severely dizzy or suffer from chronic light-headedness, you may actually have a condition called vertigo.
- Vertigo symptoms may come on suddenly without any warning
- Symptoms can also cause a significant disruption of your daily routine
What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a vestibular condition that causes severe and prolonged sensations of feeling dizzy or lightheaded. Vertigo is accompanied by symptoms that go beyond minor wooziness or wobbling. People who suffer from this condition feel like they are swaying back and forth, about to fall over, or that the room is spinning around them.
They also may suffer other symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, severe headache, and hearing loss. Some people have no control over their eye movements while others may sweat profusely.
Even if your vertigo is not accompanied by the worst of these symptoms, you still may consider treatment for it. Without proper medical care and attention, your vertigo may worsen, be difficult to adapt to, and become more frequent. You can start the process of adapting to and overcoming the worst vertigo symptoms by learning more about the available treatments for it.
How is Vertigo Treated?
Vertigo typically does not require invasive surgery or hospitalization to treat effectively. In fact, most doctors use holistic measures that focus on more than just the symptoms of vertigo themselves.
A number of different factors can cause vertigo. The most common cause is a condition called BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which involves the accumulation of calcium particles in the inner ear.
However, other contributors to vertigo include:
- Ménière’s disease, which can involve the loss of hearing
- Vestibular migraine
- Cholesteatoma, or an abnormal growth of the middle ear drum
- Defects and damage caused by injuries or birth defects
Depending on the severity and cause of your vertigo, your doctor may recommend exercise like canalith repositioning, which helps dislodge the calcium deposits from your ear. You also may be encouraged to make dietary and lifestyle changes, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol and cutting back on processed foods.
In the worst cases of vertigo, however, doctors may recommend that patients undergo surgery to remove calcium deposits and correct damages within the ear canals. You may be able to avoid undergoing surgery for vertigo by learning how to adapt to this condition and what steps to take to prevent frequent bouts of it.
Adapting to Vertigo
Without surgical intervention, most cases of minor to moderate vertigo are not entirely curable. The symptoms may lessen and go away for extended periods of time. Still, you might experience intermittent bouts of vertigo every few weeks or months. For that reason, you may want to learn how to adapt to it so that you experience fewer symptoms and can go for longer periods of time without it affecting your daily life.
You should also make it a priority to move slowly and avoid sudden actions like turning your head quickly or getting up out of a chair too fast. Sudden movements tend to trigger bouts of vertigo and can induce debilitating symptoms like migraines and vomiting.
You should also remain in close contact with your ENT doctor and follow his or her instructions carefully. Your doctor can monitor the severity and progress of your vertigo and intercede quickly if the symptoms worsen. At some point, you might need to undergo surgery to repair inner ear damages or to remove calcium deposits that your body will not reabsorb.
Vertigo can be a disruptive and debilitating illness that brings your daily life to a halt. It can be caused by a number of different triggers. You can decide what treatment method is best for you by learning which ones are available and what means to use to adapt to and overcome vertigo.
Advances in how radiation therapy is done have made it safer to deliver high doses of radiation to the tumor without significant risk to surrounding tissues. Stereotactic radiation, in particular, may stop the growth of a vestibulocochlear nerve tumor or reduce the size of the tumor. Radiation treatment is typically recommended for small or medium-size acoustic neuromas. Radiation may also be used when surgery is deemed too risk for a patient since it’s far less invasive.
Radiation may be delivered single fraction stereotactic radiosurgery. With SRS, several beams of radiation are directed at the tumor during a single session. Radiation is applied to a tumor gradually during several sessions with multi-session fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (FRS), which may preserve hearing more effectively than SRS.
Surgery for Acoustic Neuromas
Surgery may become an option of tumors larger thaxn 3 centimeters. All or part of an acoustic neuroma may be removed during surgery. Performed under general anesthesia, surgery for vestibulocochlear nerve tumors may involve a translabyrinthine procedure where an incision is made behind the ear and bone and part of the middle ear are removed to reach the tumor.
The skull near the back of the head is opened with a retrosigmoid/sub-occipital procedure. Bone of the ear canal is removed to access smaller tumors relegated to the internal auditory canal with a middle fossa procedure. Advancements such as assisted navigation, endoscopic resection, and ultrasonic removal have made surgery safer for patients.
Due to the nature of a condition like this, preventing an acoustic neuroma from developing isn’t possible. There’s some evidence suggesting environmental factors may play a role in the genetic abnormality that results in acoustic neuromas. One in 100,000 patients are diagnosed with this type of tumor each year. Individuals with a condition called neurofibromatosis that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue appear to have a greater risk of developing growths on the vestibulocochlear nerve.