Ask the doc: Dizziness and vertigo can make your head spin

Q: Sometimes I feel dizzy. What causes dizziness?

A: There are many causes of dizziness. The cause of a person’s dizziness can be difficult to identify and often patients aren’t satisfied with the treatments that are available.

According to the American Academy of Family, dizziness accounts for more than seven million medical clinic visits per year.

Often dizziness will go away on its own after a brief course of time without treatment, however, it can be a sign of a serious heart, circulation or nervous system problem.

In one review of medical literature, conditions of the ear accounted for 44 percent of cases of dizziness. Dizziness can also result from problems with vision, medications, sinuses, dehydration or rapid breathing, just to name a few. According to the National Institute for Health, dizziness is the most common cause of doctor visits after age 75.

Q: What is vertigo?

A: Vertigo is a form of dizziness associated with a sensation that the room is spinning.

Q: What causes vertigo?

A: Vertigo is usually caused either by a condition of the ear or of the brain. One of the more common causes of vertigo is believed to be due to tiny calcium crystal rocks in the inner ear that move when the head moves. This is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Another more common cause of vertigo is believed to be caused by pressure changes of the inner ear fluid and is referred to as Meniere’s Disease.

Vertigo can also be caused by injury to the inner ear from chemicals such as medications (called ototoxicity) or inflammation such as with a viral infection (called labyrinthitis).

Diseases of the brain can lead to vertigo and are less common.

(Courtesy of Martin Army Community Hospital, Fort Benning, Ga.)