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Vertigo Overview (cont.)

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What are the signs and symptoms of vertigo?

The symptoms of vertigo include a sense of spinning or moving. These symptoms can be present even when someone is perfectly still. Movement of the head or body, like rolling over in bed, can escalate or worsen the symptoms. The symptoms are different from lightheadedness or a sense of fainting. Many people experience associated nausea or vomiting.

Physical examination often shows signs of abnormal eye movements, called nystagmus. Some patients experience imbalance in association with the vertigo. If imbalance lasts for more than a few days, or if the vertigo is accompanied by weakness or incoordination of one side of the body, the suspicion of stroke or other problem of the brain is much higher. In those cases, prompt evaluation is recommended.

How is vertigo diagnosed?

During an evaluation for vertigo, the health care professional may obtain a full history of the events and symptoms. This includes medications that have been taken (even over-the-counter medications), recent illnesses, and prior medical problems (if any). Even seemingly unrelated problems may provide a clue as to the underlying cause of the vertigo.

After the history is obtained, a physical examination is performed. This often involves a full neurologic exam to evaluate brain function and determine whether the vertigo is due to a central or peripheral cause. Signs of nystagmus (abnormal eye movements) or incoordination can help pinpoint the underlying problem. The Dix-Hallpike test is done to try to recreate symptoms of vertigo; this test involves abruptly repositioning the patient's head and monitoring the symptoms which might then occur. However, not every patient is a good candidate for this type of assessment, and a physician might instead perform a "roll test," during which a patient lies flat and the head is rapidly moved from side to side. Like the Dix-Hallpike test, this may recreate vertigo symptoms and may be quite helpful in determining the underlying cause of the vertigo.

If indicated, some cases of vertigo may require an MRI or CT scan of the brain or inner ears to exclude a structural problem like stroke. If hearing loss is suspected, audiometry may be ordered. Hearing loss is not seen with BPPV or other common causes of vertigo. Electronystagmography, or electrical evaluation of vertigo, can help distinguish between peripheral and central vertigo, but is not routinely performed.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/29/2014

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Vertigo - Symptoms Question: Do you experience nausea, vomiting, or other symptoms with your vertigo?
Vertigo - Causes Question: Do you know what causes or brings on your vertigo?
Vertigo - Treatment Question: What kind of treatment have you had for your vertigo? Did it help?
Vertigo - Exercises Question: Have you tried vestibular rehabilitation exercises (Cawthorne head exercises or the Epley maneuver) for your vertigo? Did they help?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/vertigo_overview/article.htm

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