8 Symptoms of Vertigo

Vertigo is a feeling of dizziness, disorientation, or any sense of movement when you are sitting or standing perfectly still. The sensation you experience when you spin around really fast and then stop is a transitory type of vertigo. When you stop moving it can take your center of balance a few minutes to catch up, which makes it feel like you are still spinning. Sufferers of the medical condition of vertigo can feel that rotating sensation at any time, whether they are moving or not. The sensation does not go away after a few moments, but can last for a few hours or even a few days.

The disorientation can become even more intense with head or body movement, such as rolling over in bed. The most common underlying cause for chronic vertigo is a problem with the inner ear. There are three tiny floating bones in the ear that send signals to the brain indicating the body’s position relative to the pull of gravity. If something is wrong with the inner ear, incorrect signals are sent. Sometimes calcium builds up naturally in the ear and causes vertigo. Chronic conditions such as Meniere’s Disease or Vestibular Neuritis can also be related to balance problems. In a few cases vertigo is the result of injury to the head or neck, a stroke, or severe migraine headaches.

1. Dizziness

When the ear sends the wrong signal to the brain, the brain will try to reconcile that information with what the other senses are saying. This causes a feeling of disorientation that can make it difficult for you to keep your balance. Sometimes the dizzy sensation can make it impossible to walk straight or sit up. It can feel like your head is spinning around while you are sitting perfectly still. There is usually no warning before the sensation begins, so if you have experienced a series of unexplained bouts of dizziness you should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you have seen a doctor and have the dizzy spells under control.

Your doctor will ask for your full medical history, as well as a list of over the counter medications you have taken recently. You will then undergo an examination of your brain’s responses to certain stimuli and a full check of your ear canal. Sometimes a doctor will want to perform a CT scan or MRI to see exactly what is going on. Once the cause of the dizzy spells is determined, you will receive treatment for the underlying cause of the disorientation, usually in the form of a medical prescription.

2. Spinning

Sometimes you might feel like your head is spinning in circles even when you are sitting or standing still. You might feel like you just stepped off of a merry-go-round or spun yourself around in circles quickly and then suddenly stopped. The sensation can be even more intense when you close your eyes. This is caused by the brain trying to reconcile the signals it receives from the inner ear with the signals it receives from the other senses. The signals cross each other out and you feel as though you are moving through space when you are actually not moving at all. If the sensation does not dissipate after a few minutes schedule an appointment with a doctor to get checked out.

3. Swaying

One of the signs that the body is reacting to mixed signals about where it is in space is that it attempts to make adjustments so that it feels more like it is upright. When those balance signals are incorrect, this could lead to the body inadvertently swaying back and forth looking for that balance point. You may not realize you have been unconsciously swaying as you sit or stand. The action of swaying on its own does not necessarily mean you have vertigo. Many people sway when they are tired or bored without realizing they are moving. If the problem persists and gets in the way of your regular activities, visit a doctor to learn more about why.

4. Nausea

It is normal to become nauseated when your balance is off. The dizzy spinning sensations that accompany vertigo can make your stomach feel like it is flipping around and cause you to feel sick. Usually the sick feeling will go away as the other symptoms fade. Nausea is not in itself one of the signs of vertigo, but it is associated closely with many of the other symptoms. The sensation is very similar to the way you sometimes get sick to your stomach after riding a rotating amusement park ride because that sense of rotation is very similar to the effect vertigo has on your system.

5. Vomiting

If a bout of dizziness lasts long enough, or is severe enough, you could begin to vomit. The disorientation that causes you to become nauseated can be extreme enough that your stomach rebels and you cannot keep food down. Avoid eating or drinking anything while you are suffering from vertigo related nausea, and see a doctor as soon as possible if you find yourself vomiting or feeling like you are going to vomit due to a feeling of disorientation more than once or twice. The vertigo is a symptom of something that is wrong with your body’s sense of balance, and once the problem is resolved the disorientation should go away.

6. Headache

It is common for vertigo sufferers to complain of throbbing headaches. Sometimes the disorientation and loss of balance is caused by a migraine headache, so the vertigo is the result of the headache. If you experience any vision loss, unusual colors or sparkles in your field of vision, or pain that is unbearable you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Migraines are not always treatable, but there are medications that can help reduce the symptoms and ease the pain. Once the migraine is under control, the vertigo should go away quickly. If treating the head pain does not relieve the disorientation, your doctor will run tests to find out what the underlying cause really is.

7. Sweating

When you experience extreme disorientation from vertigo, your body tends to increase its production of adrenaline. One of the symptoms of the rise in adrenaline levels is that you will begin to sweat more than normal. Sometimes it feels like a cold sweat that you notice on your face and arms, while other times you may feel as if your body temperature is rising. It can be difficult to tie sweating directly to vertigo because there are so many reasons the body sweats. You will likely notice some of the more obvious symptoms, such as feeling dizzy or nauseated, before you notice that you’ve broken out into a sweat.

8. Ringing in Ears

If your ears are ringing there is a good chance that your vertigo is related to a problem with the inner ear. The same ear infections, swelling, or fluid build-up that causes vertigo can also cause the eardrum to vibrate slightly. This vibration sounds like a soft whining sound that does not go away. There can also be a slight hearing loss associated with the trouble that is causing the rest of the symptoms. The ringing sound will help your doctor pinpoint exactly what your underlying issue is more quickly. When the ear trouble is eliminated, the vertigo should disappear as well.