Q I some­times get ver­tigo – what’s the best treat­ment?

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Dr Melanie -

A Ver­tigo is a spe­cific form of dizzi­ness that makes us feel that we, or the room, are spin­ning. It’s un­pleas­ant, and can make us feel un­steady or sick as our brains try to make sense of con­flict­ing in­for­ma­tion com­ing from our eyes, body pos­ture and in­ner ears (vestibule and labyrinth). Com­mon causes are virus in­fec­tions and BPPV (be­nign parox­ys­mal po­si­tional ver­tigo). In BPPV mov­ing the head pro­duces sud­den short episodes of dizzi­ness; it’s thought to be linked to floating de­bris in our semi-cir­cu­lar canals (part of the in­ner ear’s balanc­ing sys­tem). Ver­tigo also has many other causes, in­clud­ing mo­tion sick­ness, med­i­ca­tion side-ef­fects, mi­graine, head in­juries and other brain/ear disor­ders. Ménière’s dis­ease, caused by fluid build-up in the in­ner ear, pro­duces in­ter­mit­tent dizzi­ness, hear­ing loss and tin­ni­tus (ab­nor­mal sounds).

The best treat­ment de­pends on the un­der­ly­ing cause and you may need to see an ear, nose and throat spe­cial­ist, have brain/ear scans and other tests, or even stop driv­ing. Med­i­ca­tion such as be­tahis­tine or cin­nar­izine can re­lieve short-term ver­tigo and nau­sea, but chronic ver­tigo is of­ten best treated with repo­si­tion­ing or vestibu­lar re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ex­er­cises, which the spe­cial­ist can ar­range.

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