Do you ever feel off-balance or like the room is spinning even though you’re sitting down? Or, do you ever experience a ringing in your ears or hear a distant buzzing? If yes, you may have already encountered vertigo or Meniere’s disease. These two balance- and hearing-related conditions are relatively similar and commonly confused.
If you’re uncertain what qualifies as vertigo and what counts as Meniere’s disease, this article is for you. Below, you’ll learn what vertigo and Meniere’s disease are, along with their characteristic symptoms and causes. You’ll also discover the similarities and differences between the two conditions, plus treatment options.
What Is Vertigo?
Essentially, vertigo is the sensation of feeling off-balance. However, vertigo is different from dizziness. Dizziness is an altered sense of balance that can make you feel unsteady or lightheaded. In contrast, vertigo is a false sense of motion that you may experience while sitting, standing or even lying still.
You may feel either vertigo or dizziness if you move your head quickly or rise from a lying position too fast. On the other hand, symptoms of vertigo or dizziness could also point toward a more severe illness, such as an underlying balance disorder or spinal trauma. For this reason, it is wise to consult with your doctor if you experience frequent vertigo.
Symptoms of Vertigo
Most often, a quick change in head position triggers vertigo. If vertigo sets in, you may experience the following feelings:
- An unseen force pulling you toward a specific direction
Along with the sensations above, vertigo symptoms may include:
- Abnormal or jerking eye movements
- A ringing in the ears or hearing loss
Typically, an inner ear disorder causes vertigo. The most common reasons for vertigo include the following.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: BPPV happens when microscopic calcium particles become dislodged from their usual location and start to collect within the inner ear. Once this occurs, the inner ear will send signals to the brain about body and head movements related to gravity, which may cause you to feel off-balance. Though there’s no known cause of BPPV, it happens more regularly to older people.
- Vestibular neuritis: Also known as labyrinthitis, this inner ear problem tends to result from an infection that causes inflammation in the inner ear near the nerves that are responsible for helping the body maintain a sense of balance. As a result, you may feel like you are spinning, tilting or generally off-balance.
- Meniere’s disease: Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder commonly associated with a buildup of fluid and changing pressure levels in the ear. The condition can cause episodes of vertigo, ringing in the ears or hearing loss.
- Spinal trauma: Cervicogenic vertigo is a particular type of vertigo that occurs when cervical spinal trauma disrupts the communications between nerves in the upper cervical spine and sensory organs, such as the ears, eyes and sinuses. A spinal misalignment can irritate the nerves, which may affect these sensory organs and result in vertigo.
What Is Meniere’s Disease?
As referenced above, Meniere’s disease is a progressive inner ear disorder that often leads to symptoms like vertigo or hearing loss. In most cases, Meniere’s disease affects only one of the ears. Though the condition can occur at any age, it most often sets in between young and middle-aged adulthood.
While Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition, various Meniere’s disease treatment techniques can help relieve symptoms. The correct treatment plan can minimize this issue’s long-term impact.
Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
Meniere’s disease can cause sudden and often disabling symptoms, including the following.
- Severe dizziness: Extreme feelings of unsteadiness may result in nausea or vomiting.
- Vertigo: Vertigo is the sensation of feeling as if you are moving or the world is spinning around you even if you’re standing still. Episodes of vertigo may start spontaneously without warning and last up to several hours.
- Ear pressure: Excessive ear pressure may make your ear feel full or congested.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus refers to an intermittent or constant ringing, buzzing, whistling, hissing or roaring sound in the ears.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss due to Meniere’s disease usually happens only in one ear and may fluctuate but typically worsens over time.
Meniere’s Disease Causes
Experts have yet to pinpoint the cause of Meniere’s disease. While the symptoms seem to result from an abnormal amount of fluid within the inner ear, it is unclear what makes that phenomenon occur. However, specific factors that affect the inner ear’s fluid may contribute to the development of Meniere’s disease, including the following.
- Improper fluid drainage, which could result from a blockage or anatomic abnormality
- A viral infection
- An abnormal immune response
- Genetic predisposition
In addition to these contributing factors, some experts believe spinal trauma could play a central role in causing Meniere’s disease. A misalignment in the upper cervical spine can lead to nerve irritation in the upper neck and inner ear, resulting in Meniere’s disease symptoms. Traumatic spinal injuries, such as whiplash or an impact injury, can cause Meniere’s disease symptoms immediately, months or even years after the incident.
Relationship Between Vertigo and Meniere’s Disease
There is a close link between Vertigo and Meniere’s disease because vertigo is a common symptom of Meniere’s disease. Those with Meniere’s disease often experience episodes of vertigo that can last several hours. For this reason, Meniere’s disease may be the underlying cause of some vertigo cases.
Difference Between Vertigo and Meniere’s Disease
Though vertigo is a symptom of Meniere’s disease, the chronic condition can have multiple other side effects and tends to get progressively worse. On the other hand, vertigo does not necessarily link with a more severe condition, such as Meniere’s disease. An episode of vertigo may also be attributable to a different inner ear problem like a viral infection.
Contact Dr. Gertner for Vertigo and Meniere’s Disease Treatment
If you’re looking for reliable vertigo treatment or relief from Meniere’s disease symptoms, visit Dr. Gertner at Upper Cervical Chiropractic of New York. At our White Plains chiropractic practice, we specialize in a spinal correction procedure called NUCCA. This technique can alleviate the side effects of vertigo and Meniere’s disease by correctly aligning the Atlas vertebra to restore nerve flow and bring your body into balance.