Vertigo is the feeling that you or your environment is moving when no movement occurs. Imprecisely called dizziness, the term vertigo is the specific term used to describe an illusion of movement. Unlike nonspecific lightheadedness or dizziness, vertigo has relatively few causes.
Vertigo can be caused by problems in the brain or the inner ear.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common form of vertigo and is characterised by the sensation of motion initiated by sudden head movements.
- Vertigo may also be caused by inflammation within the inner ear. This is known as labyrinthitis. This condition is characterised by the sudden onset of vertigo and may be associated with hearing loss.
- Meniere's disease is composed of a triad of symptoms: episodes of vertigo, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss. People have the abrupt onset of severe vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, as well as periods in which they are symptom-free.
- Acoustic neuroma is a type of tumour causing vertigo. Symptoms include vertigo with one-sided ringing in the ear and hearing loss.
- Vertigo can be caused by decreased blood flow to the brain and base of the brain. Bleeding into the back of the brain is known as cerebellar haemorrhage and is characterised by vertigo, headache, difficulty walking, and inability to look toward the side of the bleed. The result is that the person's eyes gaze away from the side with the problem. Walking is also extremely impaired.
- Vertigo is often the presenting symptom in multiple sclerosis. The onset is usually abrupt, and examination of the eyes may reveal the inability of the eyes to move past the midline toward the nose.
- Head trauma and neck injury may also result in vertigo, which usually goes away on its own.
- Migraine, a severe form of headache, may also cause vertigo. The vertigo is usually followed by a headache. There is often a prior history of similar episodes but no lasting problems.