Vertigo is a very unsettling feeling. It is often described as a feeling that the world is spinning or that you are. It can come on suddenly, with or without an accompanying illness. It can last for minutes, hours, or days and come and go without warning.  

vertigoWhat Causes It?

Vertigo originates in the inner ear. When pressure changes in the inner ear, a sensation of spinning, tilting, or feeling pulled in one direction can occur. It’s a scary sensation when the very notion of gravity has been disrupted in your life. 

Symptoms that often accompany vertigo and can be further debilitating include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Unusual eye movements

What causes changes to the inner ear?

Many conditions can lead to inner ear changes, and in turn, vertigo, including:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BBPV) occurs when canaliths (small calcium particles) move from their normal location and settle in the inner ear.
  • Meniere’s disease is caused by fluid build-up in the ear. Ringing in the ears or hearing loss may accompany Meniere’s disease.
  • Vestibular neuritis (labyrinthitis) is due to an infection in the ear. The infection causes the nerves that help your body keep its balance to become inflamed and unable to regulate balance.
  • Less common causes of vertigo include injury to the head or neck, stroke or other brain issues, medications, and migraines. 


The human body is a miraculous thing. Many times your brain will adjust and regulate balance to negate vertigo. When this is not possible, there are several treatments you can discuss with your doctor, some of which include:

  • Antibiotics to fight infection
  • Anti-inflammatory medications 
  • Balance regulating medications
  • Vestibular rehabilitation, a type of rehabilitation that strengthens your body’s ability to regulate the signals sent from the vestibular system to the brain.

Your physician will ask you questions about your symptoms about the length of time and severity of your vertigo if there seem to be any triggers or accompanying symptoms, and how much vertigo affects your daily activities. Based on this information and a physical exam that may include a hearing test or attempt to recreate your vertigo, your physician may suggest one of the treatments above or refer you to a specialist for further testing and consideration.

When is Vertigo an Emergency?

If you experience severe vertigo that includes any of the following, you should seek emergency care:

  • Vertigo following trauma
  • Vision problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle weakness
  • Severe headache
  • Inability to keep down fluids

Vertigo can be scary, but with good communication between you and your physician, a proper treatment plan can get you back on steady feet once again.

Dr. Paul Lenkowski and the Roanoke Valley ENT & Allergy team are dedicated to providing innovative, state-of-the-art treatment to patients of all ages in the Roanoke area. With years of experience and expertise in cutting-edge sinus surgery techniques, Dr. Lenkowski is your choice for expert ENT care. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!