Vertigo is a sensation in which you feel as though you, or the world around you, are moving or spinning. Though commonly believed to be a condition, vertigo is actually a symptom of another problem — usually concerning the inner ear
. The inner ear is home to the vestibular system, which plays a major role in us keeping our balance. When something is wrong with the inner ear, like a disease or infection, it can lead to both vertigo and hearing loss
Hearing loss and vertigo can be symptoms of the same condition, but they aren't caused by each other.
Though there is a type of vertigo that indicates a problem in the brain (central vertigo
), we'll be discussing the most common type of vertigo: peripheral vertigo. This vertigo is caused by an issue in the way balance works in your inner ear. There are several conditions, infections, and diseases that can cause peripheral vertigo
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Labyrinthitis (inner ear infection)
- Vestibular neuronitis (inflammation of the vestibular nerve)
- Head injury
- Ménière's disease
- Certain medicines (e.g., diuretics, salicylates, cisplatin)
The key sign of vertigo is the feeling that you, or the world around you, are spinning. Though at times hardly noticeable, it may be severe to the point that you can't maintain your balance or complete basic tasks. Vertigo attacks can come on suddenly or be triggered when you change your head's position. They may last anywhere from a few seconds to several days.
It's important to note once again that vertigo is not a condition; it is a symptom of a different issue. The symptoms listed below are for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which is one of the most common causes of vertigo
- Loss of balance
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Unusual rhythmic eye movements
You'll notice that hearing loss isn't included as a symptom of BPPV. Though hearing loss can occur alongside vertigo, it's typically the result of a different underlying condition than BPPV, such as Ménière's disease or labyrinthitis. To be sure, you'll need a hearing test at a clinic.
Despite the connection between hearing loss and dizziness, hearing aids do not worsen vertigo. On the contrary, many studies have shown them to improve balance in older adults
. They can also help prevent bouts of dizziness
, which are common among people with balance disorders
If vertigo is affecting your quality of life, it's time to take steps to stop it. Ease vertigo symptoms and learn more about what's causing it by booking a hearing test