People who experience vertigo describe it as a sensation of spinning, or a feeling that your head is spinning. It is more than just feeling dizzy, and it may cause you to lose your balance and fall. The balance issues caused by vertigo can be a significant safety risk.
A vertigo attack can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few days. To ease the symptoms, vertigo sufferers are advised to move slowly and purposefully, and to avoid rapid movements.
This condition may go away on its own without medical treatment – but if it lasts for days or weeks, it may be due to a condition called Ménière’s disease, which is a type of inner ear disorder. If you are experiencing vertigo along with other symptoms, such as loss of vision, hearing changes, and/or speech changes, or if it has gone on for days, see a doctor right away.
Vertigo has certain triggers, so doctors recommend that people with vertigo avoid the triggers as much as possible. Let’s talk about some of those triggers and who you can see about your symptoms of vertigo.
What Triggers Vertigo Attacks?
Vertigo can happen for a lot of different reasons. Some of the most common causes are inner ear conditions such as infections and Meniere’s disease. Conditions affecting other parts of the body, such as heart arrhythmias can also cause vertigo and dizziness. In some cases, there is no physical condition causing vertigo. It can simply be the result of a panic attack or severe stress.
Although the possible causes and their treatments can be very different, what most of these problems have in common is that they can often be triggered by the same things. You should be aware of the following triggers and do what you can to avoid them if you find that they make you feel ill.
- Bending down, for example to pick things up. Bending your knees can prevent this by allowing you to keep your head in an upright position.
- Stretching your neck, for example to reach high shelves. Using a step or avoiding this activity can prevent vertigo attacks by allowing you to keep your head and neck steady.
- Changing position quickly, especially when standing up or getting out of bed. Moving slowly and steadily can prevent vertigo.
- Turning, tilting or moving your head quickly. Keeping your movements slow and steady should help you to avoid triggering your symptoms.
- Stress, anxiety and depression can all trigger vertigo attacks. Do what you can to avoid these pressures or to manage them when they can’t be prevented. Talking to a friend, taking time to relax, or using meditation techniques could help.
- Confusing visual signals can trigger vertigo attacks, for example when you are sitting still on a train, but you can see movement through the window or if you try to move around in the dark without any visual cues to help you balance. You can prevent these problems by looking into the slower-moving distance when travelling, getting up and walking around if possible, or making sure you turn on the light at night.
You might find that there are other things that can trigger your symptoms. It’s a good idea to keep a record of when and where your vertigo attacks happened as you may be able to spot patterns. If you notice anything that seems to be triggering your symptoms, then you should try to avoid it to see if it helps.
As well as being aware of potential triggers for your vertigo attacks, it is also important to see a doctor if you often experience this symptom. If there is an underlying cause such as an inner ear disorder, then an ENT specialist may be able to provide treatment to prevent future attacks or advise you on the best way to tackle the symptoms when they appear.
How is Vertigo Treated?
Some cases of vertigo improve over time, without treatment. However, some people have repeated episodes for many months, or even years, such as those with Ménière’s disease.
There are specific treatments for some causes of vertigo. A series of simple head movements (known as the Epley manoeuvre) is used to treat BPPV.
Medicines, such as prochlorperazine and some antihistamines, can help in the early stages or most cases of vertigo.
Many people with vertigo also benefit from vestibular rehabilitation training (VRT), which is a series of exercises for people with dizziness and balance problems.
Related: What Causes Vertigo In Adults