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The medical condition vertigo causes you to feel as if you or the things in the environment around you are moving when they are actually standing still. It is known to have a rotational component of spinning or swaying. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, problems walking, or sweating. It often becomes more severe when the head is moved in a particular position. Vertigo is the most common form of dizziness.

Vertigo is put into two different classifications:

  • Peripheral: Caused by a problem with the inner ear or vestibular system, this type of vertigo is called peripheral, otologic, or vestibular vertigo. Motion sickness is sometimes put in this category. People with peripheral vertigo usually have mild to moderate imbalance, nausea, vomiting, hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), congestion, and pain in the affected ear. Lesions may be associated with facial weakness on the same side.
  • Central: Vertigo coming from an injury to the balance centers of the central nervous system is referred to as central. This can be due to a lesion on the brainstem or cerebellum. Central vertigo is associated with less prominent movement illusion and nausea that peripheral vertigo. It is known more for neurological deficits (slurred speech and double vision) and nystagmus (irregular eye movements). Some patients experience this so bad they are unable to walk or stand. Central vertigo often improves much more slowly that peripheral.

The Vestibular System’s Role in Vertigo

The vestibular system is a key component in helping the body keep in balance. It is a sensory system that keeps track of your spatial orientation and sense of balance so as to coordinate movement. It contains the cochlea, the labyrinth of the inner ear, including the semicircular canals (indicating rotational movements) and the otoliths (indicating linear accelerations). The vestibular system mainly sends signals to the neural structures that control eye movement and to the muscles keeping you upright.

Since the world is three-dimensional, the vestibular system has three semicircular canals in each labyrinth. They are at right angles to each other and are called the horizontal, the anterior, and the posterior semicircular canals. When the fluid contained in these canals moves, it corresponds to the rotation of the head. Depending on what kind of movement the head is making, the proper canal responds. If something occurs to cause a problem in this system, vertigo is often the end result.

Three Conditions That Have Vertigo as the Main Symptom

There are three main conditions known to have vertigo as a symptom. Let’s look at each one closely so as to understand the process involved.

BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo): One of the most common causes of vertigo, BPPV causes brief episodes of mild to severe sensations of spinning. It is usually triggered by changes to the way your head is positioned. For example, when tipping your head up or down, when lying down, or when rolling over in bed. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A feeling of being unbalanced or unsteadiness
  • Dizziness
  • A sensation you or your surroundings are spinning about

BPPV can come and go and is usually due to the crystals of the inner ear breaking off and moving to the wrong area of the ear. When the fluid in the ear moves with the head, it continues to move after the head has stopped. This is the reason why this type of vertigo happens.

Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis: These two problems have the same symptoms and are cared for in the same way. It is a problem inside the ear causing the labyrinth to become inflamed or swollen. The inflammation brings about sudden vertigo and makes you feel like you are spinning or whirling. You may experience temporary hearing loss or ringing in your ears. Symptoms are:

  • Vertigo that comes on suddenly
  • May happen a week or two after having a cold or the flu
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Can go away slowly over a period of a few days to weeks
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus

No one really knows why this occurs, but it is often connected to a viral or bacterial infection (a cold, the flu, upper respiratory infection, or a middle ear infection). When the vestibular nerve becomes inflamed, improper signals are sent to the brain about the body’s movement.

Meniere’s disease: A disorder of the inner ear that brings about vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, and tinnitus. You may also experience a feeling of congestion in the ear, with only one ear being affected. It is considered a chronic condition and generally affects those in the age range of 20 to 50. Meniere’s disease is thought to occur due to an abnormal amount of fluid buildup in the inner ear. This has not been proven, however.

Vertigo Treatment Novato CA

Finding Help for Vertigo

No matter the reason for the spinning sensation you are experiencing, one thing that has been shown to help is upper cervical chiropractic care. This is because a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine can be an underlying reason for vertigo. If the top bones of the neck, the C1 and C2 vertebrae, are misaligned, they can be putting the brainstem under stress. This causes it to mix up the signals being sent to the brain about the body’s location in its environment. When the signals from the brainstem do not match those of the eyes, ears, and nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to react and vertigo ensues.

As upper cervical chiropractors, we use a method that is both gentle and precise to help correct the problem. We do not have to resort to popping or cracking the spine. Once the bones are back into place, many patients report a great improvement in their vertigo. This often only takes a few adjustments.

Schedule a consultation with Novato chiropractor Dr. Monica Egan at Monarch Chiropractic