Causes Of Vertigo

Fibromyalgia Guide


What Causes Vertigo?


Ear Infection
Ménière's Disease


Vertigo occurs when the delicate balance structure inside the ear changes, possibly due to infection or injury. It is a symptom of another condition (not a disease in itself) which means it can be caused by many things.

Ear Infection

The most common cause of vertigo is an ear infection. In particular, an infection of the inner ear accompanied by inflammation (acute vestibular neuritis). With an inner ear infection, vertigo can appear quite suddenly and last for several days, it may be accompanied by vomiting and nausea. If there is also hear loss, the condition is called labyrinthitis. Infections usually clear naturally, although medications can speed up recovery.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Although it sounds nasty, BPPV is not life threatening - far from it! However it is one of the most common causes of vertigo. BPPV occurs when crystals inside the ear fluid gather and block one of the canals inside the ear. This 'confuses' signals to the brain triggering the sensation of dizziness. Vertigo is usually worsened by tipping your head to one side or backwards. About 20 percent of vertigo cases in people under 50 years of age are caused by BPPV and 50 percent in those over 50.

Ménière's Disease

This is a relatively rare cause of vertigo. The patient feels suddenly dizzy (spells can last several hours), there may be hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus) and a feeling like the ear is blocked. It is caused by excess fluid in the inner ear - the fluid leaks from the ear canals causing damage. Some people are born with damaged inner ears, others develop symptoms because of excessive use of aspirin, cigarettes, alcohol or eating too much salt. It has also been linked to allergies. There is no identified single cause of Ménière's, so it may be the result of a combination of a few things. Women (over 50) are at higher risk than men.

Note: One clinical study showed that BBPV, Ménière's disease and inner ear infections account for 93 percent of all cases of vertigo.


Some people experience vertigo with a migraine. This is known as vestibular migraine. The patient experiences imbalance, dizziness or unsteadiness. It may be that the migraine causes blood flow restriction to the delicate organs of the inner ear. Symptoms subside with the migraine.

Post Traumatic Vertigo

This is dizziness which occurs after an injury to the head or neck (such as whiplash). Small crystals of calcium carbonate (called otoconia) inside the ear (which are of importance for balance) can be displaced by impact or injury, causing the sensation of dizziness. Dizziness caused by such an injury could last up to a year.

Drug Side Effects

Dizziness is listed as a side effect for many medications, although it is most likely to be caused by blood pressure drugs, waterpills, sedatives, tranquilizers, pain relievers, antidepressants and some antibiotics.

Next: Symptoms of vertigo.


Related Articles on Dizziness

For more articles, see the following:

Head Problems - A to Z of conditions.
Vertigo Tests: How to test yourself, video.
Vertigo Treatment: Home remedies.
Hospital Departments - Find your way around.

• For more see: Womens Health Advice

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