Defining Vertigo

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Defining Vertigo

Dizziness vs Vertigo

But what is vertigo? Vertigo is the uncomfortable sensation of spinning when standing, sitting or lying still. The words “vertigo” and “dizziness” are often used interchangeably but, in fact, they describe quite different sensations and are often associated with different etiologies. While vertigo denotes a sensation of spinning, cases of dizziness (which are the more common of the two) involve a sensation of lightheadedness, unsteadiness or a foggy feeling.


Types of Vertigo 

There are two types of vertigo, peripheral and central vertigo. BPPV is a type of peripheral vertigo. This means that it arises from a problem with the vestibular labyrinth, semicircular canals or the vestibular nerve.

Central vertigo, by contrast usually results from a problem in the cerebellum.

Peripheral vertigo can be the result of:

  • BPPV

  • Neuronitis (specifically inflammation of the vestibular nerve)

  • Labyrinthitis

  • Meniere disease

  • Ototoxic medicines: diuretics, salicylates, aminoglycoside antibiotics and cisplatin

  • Head injury

  • Benign tumours: meningioma or schwannoma can often exert pressure on the vestibular nerve.

Central vertigo can be caused by:

  • CVA (Stroke)

  • Vascular disease

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Medicines: antidepressants, anticonvulsants and aspirin

  • Alcohol

  • Tumors (cancerous or noncancerous)

  • Seizures (infrequently)

  • Vestibular migraine

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