If you’ve ever experienced vertigo, you’ll understand the subtle yet debilitating effect it can have. There are a few symptoms of vertigo, but the primary feature of vertigo is a spinning feeling that can come on suddenly and leave you feeling very off balance.
You may have only recently started experiencing the symptoms of vertigo, or have already had several episodes. Whatever your situation, this guide explains some of the causes of vertigo, whether ear wax can be to blame, and some of the treatments available.
What Is Vertigo?
Vertigo is not actually a condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem. Inside of our ear, we have tiny calcium crystals that are crucial for balance. When these crystals become dislodged, they can make us feel dizzy, and it’s this that’s one of the main causes of vertigo. The technical name for this inner ear disorder is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
Vertigo can be mild to moderate but, in the more extreme cases, can make it hard to function or carry out daily tasks as normal. The symptoms of vertigo, such as dizziness, can last a few seconds or minutes. The problem itself can last anywhere from weeks to months, but can clear faster with a targeted vertigo treatment.
Symptoms Of Vertigo
There are several symptoms of vertigo. It is initially characterised by a feeling of lightheadedness or extreme dizziness. This dizziness can feel like the environment around you, or you yourself, are spinning. It generally happens when there is a change in the position of the head, for example, when you’re lying or bending down. It can be exacerbated if the head is moved very suddenly. You may need to sit or lie down while the feeling passes. Other symptoms of vertigo include:
- Feelings of swaying, tilting, or spinning
- A loss of balance
- Trouble focussing
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- A loss of hearing
Symptoms of vertigo can also be dangerous in certain circumstances, for example when driving or for those with manual jobs. If you have frequent episodes of vertigo, you should tell the DVLA and your employer.
Causes Of Vertigo
The most typical causes of vertigo are calcium crystals, called otoconia, migrating into the wrong part of the inner ear. They disrupt the flow of fluid out of the ear, resulting in the spinning sensation. Other possible causes of vertigo are:
Ménière’s Disease, a rare disorder of the inner ear, can trigger an excess of fluid in the inner ear. This fluid can interfere with pressure in the ear and result in episodes of vertigo.
An inflammation of the vestibular nerve, vestibular neuritis is another inner ear disorder and one of the more rare causes of vertigo. It can bring on very sudden and unsettling bouts of vertigo and is thought to be linked to viral infections. Vestibular neuritis can usually be managed with antiviral medication.
Deep inside the inner ear is a structure called a labyrinth. Labyrinthitis happens when this structure becomes inflamed. Vertigo is one of the most common symptoms of labyrinthitis and can last for up to three months.
Certain medications can be causes of vertigo, including antivirals, antiinflammatories, and anticonvulsants. If you’re particularly prone to vertigo, it’s advised that you avoid these medications.
A blunt trauma to the head following a car accident, a serious fall or from contact sports can trigger vertigo. The vertigo should subside as you recover from your injury.
Vertigo And Tinnitus
Vertigo and tinnitus can go hand in hand. As both conditions are linked to the inner ear, the causes of vertigo can be the same as those that cause tinnitus. There may also be some hearing loss associated with vertigo and tinnitus. Some conditions, such as Ménière’s Disease and Labyrinthitis, have both vertigo and tinnitus as symptoms.
Tinnitus doesn’t necessarily cause vertigo, and vice versa, but because they are both associated with inner ear disorders, they can happen simultaneously. If vertigo and tinnitus are linked to the same cause, the severity of each may differ. For example, if Meniere’s Disease is the root cause, you may have extreme tinnitus, but only minor symptoms of vertigo, or severe vertigo but only minimal ringing in the ears.
Can Ear Wax Cause Vertigo?
Ear wax can cause vertigo. If ear wax build-up becomes impacted, the wax can push against the eardrum or tympanic membrane. This can cause nausea and a sensation of moving even if you’re staying still. There are many causes of blocked ears that can result in this ear wax build up and any subsequent vertigo symptoms. Removing ear wax can help to alleviate any pressure in the ears and therefore stop the symptoms of vertigo.
Treatment For Vertigo
Treatment for vertigo will depend on the causes of vertigo. An initial treatment for vertigo is repositioning manoeuvres to restore the position of the dislodged crystals, if BPPV is the cause of vertigo. This can involve simple movements like lying in a dark room, or slowly moving the head to gently encourage the crystals back into place.
Other more focused treatments for vertigo include:
- Medication, such as antihistamines or steroids, to reduce the symptoms or treat underlying causes of vertigo
- Vestibular rehabilitation exercises are a form of physical therapy that can improve balance and reduce motion sensitivity
- Surgery to disable the vestibular sense organ or injections of antibiotics into the inner ear – these are both quite rare treatments for vertigo
- Clearing blocked wax from the ear to relieve pressure on the ear
Microsuction For Vertigo
Clearing blocked ears can be a simple, quick, and effective treatment for vertigo when ear wax is the cause. Microsuction is an accurate, safe, and pain-free method of ear wax removal. Results are instant and there is no downtime. If excess ear wax and vertigo is a persistent problem, then having regularly scheduled microsuction appointments can help to relieve the symptoms of vertigo and reduce recurrences.
Ear Care Clinic provides microsuction ear wax removal across London, and training courses for professionals and those who want to join our network. Contact us to find out more about any aspect of microsuction ear wax removal or book an appointment at one of our clinics today.