Author’s Bio: Ria Ellendula is an incoming college freshman who is passionate about public health and healthcare policy.  

What is Vertigo ?

Vertigo is a feeling of extreme imbalance, also referred to as a “dizzy spell.” It is often associated with inner ear problems.

What causes Vertigo?
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) can cause the acute dizziness experienced during vertigo. BPPV occurs when canaliths (calcium carbonate crystals) accumulate in the inner ear. This interferes with the signals to the brain from the inner ear, which maintains balance.
  • Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder and another potential cause of vertigo. It occurs when fluid builds up in the ear, altering the pressure. When fluid collects, it can lead to tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and in drastic cases, hearing loss.
  • Vestibular neuritis (also known as labyrinthitis) is another viral infection that affects the inner ear. This infection causes inflammation of the inner ear, which damages surrounding nerves that are important for body sense balance.
  • Vertigo can also be a result of head/neck injuries, cerebral problems (stroke or tumor), certain medications, migraine headaches, etc.

Can stress cause Vertigo? 

There is a common misconception that stress causes vertigo. According to Healthline, stress does not directly cause vertigo However, high stress levels can exacerbate the symptoms of vertigo. When stress levels increase, it can contribute to dysfunction of the vestibular system. According to medical expert Dimitar Marinov,  “Stress can make vertigo worse, but it won’t produce the condition on its own […] severe stress can increase your risks for stroke, which can result in vertigo.” High levels of cortisol, histamine, and neurosteroids can disrupt the transmission of neural information from the vestibular system to the brain. This may lead to a feeling of imbalance that people experience during vertigo.

Can anxiety cause vertigo?

Chronic anxiety or feelings of anxiousness can cause stress hormone levels (such as cortisol) to be high, which negatively impacts the vestibular system. Although there is no study that proves a causation between anxiety and vertigo, a correlation between the two conditions does exist.
  • A 2016 study on the correlation between anxiety and vertigo found that it was approximately 2.2 times more likely for people with anxiety disorders to develop BPPV.
  • Anxiety triggers may also lead to a feeling of vertigo. For example, when someone with social anxiety finds himself or herself in a large crowd, they may experience extreme dizziness.
  • Anxiety and vertigo can also have a reverse relationship, in which adverse stimulation of the vestibular system is highly correlated with increased levels of anxiousness.

How long does vertigo last?

Vertigo episodes vary in duration. They can last anywhere from a couple seconds to a couple of days. They can also vary in severity. Some episodes can be incredibly mild, while others are much more intense.  

Vertigo Symptoms

While vertigo and dizziness are used interchangeably, they are different conditions that may be characterized by the same symptoms. Specifically, dizziness is defined by a general sensation of imbalance, while vertigo is a type of dizziness that makes you feel like you/your surroundings are spinning.

  • Unsteadiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feeling faint
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing problems/loss of hearing
  • Coordination issues
  • Disrupted vision
  • Abnormal eye twitches

Vertigo Treatment

  • Vitamin D supplements can assist BPPV if you are showing vitamin D deficiency 
  • Herbal remedies such as ginger root, coriander, etc. can help (consult a doctor prior to taking these)
  • Drink plenty of fluids (avoid anything containing alcohol, caffeine, tobacco) 
  • Essential oils like lavender may relieve symptoms

Epley Maneuver (also known as the “canalith” repositioning maneuver): This is the first strategy you should try if you are experiencing an episode of vertigo. It is effective for people with BPPV.

How to perform the Epley Maneuver:

  1. Sit upright on a flat surface and place a pillow behind you with your legs stretched out.
  2. Tilt your head 45 degrees to the right
  3. After repositioning your head, lay your head on the pillow and stay in that position for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Without lifting your neck, angle your head 90 degrees to the left
  5. Turn your whole body to the left so that you are on your left side
  6. Return to the original sitting position in step 1

Semont-Toupet Maneuver: This is a set of movements that are similar to the aforementioned one, but they require less neck flexibility

How to perform the Semonot-Toupet Maneuver:

  1. Sit upright on a flat surface and place a pillow behind you with your legs stretched out.
  2. Lie down while turning to your right. During this, look towards your left side and upwards.
  3. Quickly sit up and turn to your left side, while keeping your head faced left, but look towards the ground
  4. Return to the original sitting position in step 1

Brandt-Daroff Exercise: This exercise is simple; however, it may provoke increased dizziness for a short period of time.

How to perform the Brandt-Daroff Exercise:

  1. Sit on a flat surface, and dangle your legs (similar to how they would from a chair)
  2. Turn your head all the way to your left side, then lay your head and chest down to your right side for at least 30 seconds (your legs should not move)
  3. Sit up and return to the original position
  4. Turn your head all the way to your right side, then lay your head and chest down to your left side for at least 30 seconds (your legs should not move)

Vertigo Medication

  • Gingko Biloba: Leading prescription medication for vertigo. It can be found in liquid or capsule form. In order to reduce symptoms of vertigo, take 240 milligrams each day.
  • If vertigo is caused by infection or inflammation, you can take antibiotics or steroids to counteract the infection
  • If the vertigo is onset by Meniere’s disease, you can take diuretics (water pills) to decrease pressure caused by fluid buildup    

Online consultation for Vertigo

If you or someone in your family have concerns about vertigo, please contact and seek help from our doctors online. At Home Urgent Care provides telehealth services so you can safely and confidently keep your health in check with our primary and urgent care services and get treatment online. Book an online doctor appointment today with our health care experts available at your convenience 365 days a year and get your prescription/medication available online.

Book an Appointment

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Step 1

Call or Book your online Doctor Visit

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Step 2

Talk to a doctor over the Phone/ Tablet

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Step 3

If needed pick up your medication at the pharmacy