Vertigo, a form of dizziness, is not a disease in of itself but the symptom of an underlying condition. It is most often a symptom of a disorder within the vestibular system, which is responsible for the perception of movement and balance. Treating vertigo typically depends on the cause, and usually includes one of two types of physical therapies.
Vertigo itself is a symptom characterized by the unwanted sensation of dizziness. It can feel like you are being pulled from side to side or to the floor, and it is often exacerbated with certain movements of the head or when lying down. Depending on the cause, symptoms may include nausea, impaired balance and lightheadedness. Some conditions that cause vertigo, such as Meniere's disease, can cause a ringing in the ears, hearing loss or pressure in the ears. The primary symptoms of vertigo may be accompanied by headaches, light sensitivity, muscle aches and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor immediately.
The most common causes of vertigo are peripheral vestibular system disorders, the most common of which is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). In cases of BPPV, calcium deposits in the ears move from their normal position in the head to the posterior semicircular canal. Other possible causes include Cogan's syndrome, in which the connective tissue of the cornea becomes inflamed, and Meniere's disease, caused by a frequent change in pressure of the fluid found in the inner ear.
In some cases, excessive use of certain medications, such as antibiotics, antineoplastics and antidepressants, can cause ototoxicity, or ear poisoning, which can lead to vertigo. Other possible causes include disorders of the central vestibular system. These can include migraines, head trauma, tumors, multiple sclerosis and stroke.
Treatment for vertigo is focused on treating the underlying condition causing it. If caused by medication, discontinuing its use typically resolves the vertigo. If caused by BPPV, the most effective treatment is through the canalith repositioning procedure, also known as the Epley maneuver. It involves a series of head maneuvers to move the calcium deposits from the posterior semicircular canal to another portion of the inner ear canal where it does not pose a problem.
Other causes of vertigo can be treated through vestibular rehabilitation therapy, which involves a series of special exercises guided by a physical therapist designed to minimize dizziness. Its effectiveness depends on a variety of factors, including the age and overall health of the patient, severity of the condition and the patient's cognitive function.
If the vertigo is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotic ear drops may be prescribed. If caused by Meniere's disease, taking diuretics and reducing salt consumption can help.
In the end, discuss with your doctor the best possible treatment. Each individual case is different and requires different levels and types of treatment to achieve adequate results.