When a television comedian trips over furniture or stumbles across the room, it usually results in a good chuckle. But for many Americans, dizziness and balance problems are not a laughing matter.  In fact, these are common signs of vertigo. 

Vertigo is more than a mere sense of dizziness. It’s a condition that can make tasks of daily living challenging at best. If you’ve ever had the feeling that the entire room was spinning accompanied by nausea and maybe even vomiting, you may be experiencing vertigo.

If you have had these symptoms, it’s important to talk to one of our ear, nose and throat doctors in Raleigh who will create a treatment tailored to fit your needs. 

To help,  we’ve compiled 4 questions you should ask your doctor if you’re seeking help for vertigo.

Questions to Ask Your ENT When Seeking Help for Vertigo

What is the cause of my vertigo?

There are several potential causes of vertigo, and our ENT physicians will carefully evaluate your situation to determine the cause.

Potential causes may include:

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

In addition, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is often caused by dislodged otoconia or calcium deposits.  These calcium particles may shed or come loose and move through the middle ear and stimulate nerve endings. This can cause your brain to think you’re moving in a direction that you’re not. 

Patients experience BPPV most often when lying down. 

The most common symptoms of BPPV are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A sense that everything is spinning
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Rhythmic eye movement called geotropic rotary nystagmus 
  • Episodes that may subside then reappear

Could Other Conditions Be Contributing to or Causing My Vertigo?

It’s important to let your ENT physician know about any other health conditions you may have, including depression, anxiety, migraines and various neurological conditions because these can also cause vertigo and dizziness. 

Also, remember that dizziness is a side effect of many medications. Let us know if you’re taking a new medication, and be sure to tell your Raleigh Capitol ENT physician about any herbal remedies you are taking.

What Tests Do I Need to Determine if I Have Vertigo?

We can perform simple, straightforward tests to help determine if vertigo is the cause of your dizziness.

These tests include:

  • An electronystagmography (ENG) or videonystagmography (VNG). During these tests, we may place electrodes around your eyes to record eye movement. (Don’t worry, the electrodes are painless!) You may also be asked to follow track lights on a lighted bar or turn your head to several different positions.
  • Air irrigation. We also irrigate patients’ ears with cool and warm air because these may cause a few minutes of dizziness and help us determine the cause of the balance disorder.

Is There a Cure for Vertigo?

Thankfully, it is very treatable. It may even go away on its own. However, for more immediate relief, our physicians offer help through the Canalith Repositioning Procedures.  

During this treatment, your head is slowly moved into different positions. This will move the particles from your inner ear to another area where the particles are easily reabsorbed.

Don’t Limit Yourself to These Questions

We’ve outlined a few questions here, but you should never only limit yourself to these questions when visiting your doctor. It’s vitally important to work with our health care professionals because we consider ourselves partners in your care.

Some other questions you should consider asking include:

  • What precautions should I take – is it safe for me to drive?
  • Is this a temporary or chronic condition?
  • Are there any other tests you think I should take? 

Vertigo Is a Vestibular Disorder

Vertigo is considered a vestibular disorder. This group of disorders affects the vestibular system which helps your body and brain maintain balance. One-third of Americans 40 and older have some sort of vestibular disorder.  When there’s a problem with your vestibular system, you can develop vertigo. 

The Inner Ear: A Balancing Act

Keeping the body in balance is something we all take for granted…until something goes wrong.

To stay steady and upright, several systems have to work together. Muscles, bones, vision and joints send a variety of signals to the brain to keep your body from tipping over. Together, they are known as the vestibular system. 

Balance depends upon your brain interpreting a variety of signals from the vestibular system.

The Labyrinth

At the heart of the vestibular system is a complicated, maze-like structure made of bone and soft tissue located within the inner ear. It’s aptly called the labyrinth.

Inside the labyrinth are small structures called semicircular canals, which contain three fluid-filled ducts. These ducts form loops arranged at right angles. They inform your brain about how your head is rotating and if it’s moving right to left or up and down.

Inside each canal is a gel-like structure called the cupula. The cupula stretches across each fluid duct like a drumhead, and it sits on a cluster of sensory hair cells. When you turn your head, fluid inside the semicircular canal moves, causing the cupula to flex. 

Your brain receives information from this nerve signal, letting it know how your head and body are positioned. 

ENT Physicians Are Uniquely Qualified to Treat Vertigo

Your Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat physician has the extensive expertise to provide a personalized plan to treat your vertigo. Because ENT physicians treat diseases of the ear — particularly the inner ear, which helps control balance -- they are uniquely qualified to help you.

If you’ve experienced times when the entire room felt like it was spinning, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. There’s no need to suffer these symptoms. Our ENT physicians are experts who can provide a treatment tailored to fit your needs.

Contact us to schedule an appointment. We’ll be glad to help you.