Dizziness and vertigo

The sensation of spinning or swaying, the feeling of not being able to move safely in a room, or even the feeling of impending unconsciousness is not only an unpleasant but often frightening experience for most people. In medical terms, vertigo is defined as a perceived apparent movement between oneself and the environment. A distinction is made between, among others, spinning, swaying, lifting, motion and unsystematic vertigo. Dizziness is experienced in the head.

It is not a disease in the actual sense, but a multifaceted syndrome, a syndrome that can be very stressful to those affected and in part may even be dangerous due to the risk of falling. Dizziness can occur in attacks or permanently. It can appear as a spinning or swaying sensation, unsteady gait, or as light-headedness. Dizziness can be a symptom of a harmless and easily treatable disease, but it can also be the first symptom of a dangerous circulatory disorder in the brain. Since dizziness is often experienced with a high degree of anxiety, psychological factors may also contribute.

Effective therapies are available for most forms of vertigo. The aim is to identify the patient's specific vertigo based on an individual description of the symptoms and a precise physical examination. You can find a diary here to document a possibly existing vertigo. In terms of diagnosis and therapy, the patients can benefit from modern interdisciplinary diagnostic procedures (ophthalmology, neuroradiology, internal medicine, orthopedics).

Head movements, lying down or turning over in bed, getting up from lying or sitting, bending, walking - all these movements can trigger vertigo. Vertigo is frequently accompanied by symptoms like nausea or vomiting, headache, hearing disorders, double vision, sensitivity to light or noise. The type and duration of the vertigo attacks often give the physician important clues about the cause of the vertigo.

  • The most common is benign, suddenly occurring (=paroxysmal) positional vertigo, which is in principle a harmless, but often not properly recognized, form of vertigo. The origin of vertigo lies in the organ of balance. In this case, small calcium stones in the inner ear get into the wrong place in the organ of equilibrium, the semicircular canals system, and deliver false signals to the brain in strict dependence on rapid head movements. Vertigo is usually triggered by jerky head movements, for example in the morning when waking up or getting out of bed. If the clinical picture is understood correctly, the therapy of benign positional vertigo is uncomplicated. With a special sequence of movements and positioning of the body, the "ear stones" can be brought back to their original position. In most cases, the vertigo then quickly disappears. It is one of the simplest, cheapest, and most effective procedures in medicine at all which is unfortunately still used too rarely.
  • Cerebral blood supply disorders are often manifested by dizziness; in this case, appropriate diagnostic procedures are important to prevent the onset of strokes.

Vertigo diary (PDF)