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What to Know About Vertigo

A home caregiver sitting on a couch with his elderly patient

You’ve probably experienced lightheadedness or dizziness at some point in your life. But for nearly 40 percent of American adults who suffer from vertigo, the sensation of motion or spinning can be chronic and may interfere with everyday life. Vertigo is a symptom rather than a condition, which means it’s important to work with your primary care provider (PCP) to try to find the root cause to find the right treatment.

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is characterized by the feeling of spinning even when you’re not physically moving. This may cause you to lose your balance and fall, which can cause injuries. Accompanying symptoms often include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble balancing
  • Hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Headaches

There are two main types of vertigo:

Peripheral vertigo

This is usually caused by an issue in the inner ear, which helps your body keep itself balanced. To diagnose peripheral vertigo, your PCP will likely examine your ears to look for signs of infection and test your balance and hearing.

While some causes of peripheral vertigo can be fixed or helped through surgery or antibiotics, your primary care provider (PCP) may prescribe medication like antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin) or benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax® and Valium®) to help keep the symptoms of vertigo from interfering with your everyday life.

Central vertigo

This is caused by conditions that affect the brain, like infections, strokes, or traumatic brain injuries. This form of vertigo may be more severe than others. Like peripheral vertigo, your PCP will likely prescribe medications to help alleviate symptoms.

How to manage vertigo

Both forms of vertigo can benefit from lifestyle changes like standing up slowly or eating a low-salt diet. Reducing salt intake is important because sodium can often trigger vertigo. As with most health issues, following a healthy, balanced lifestyle can often help alleviate unwanted symptoms. This includes staying hydrated and avoiding sugar and processed foods.

If you or someone you know suffers from vertigo symptoms, know you’re not alone. Between online resources and support from your PCP, there are plenty of ways to find the help you need.

AmeriHealth Team

The AmeriHealth Team is here to provide well-being tips and health insurance education to help you be your healthiest.