Many adults will experience occasional dizziness at some point in their lives. Vertigo is a related condition but it is more serious and creates the feeling that the room is spinning around you even when you are standing still. According to a study conducted by the UCSF Medical Center, one in four adults over 40 will experience vertigo at least once. Here are some facts about dizziness and vertigo everyone should know.
Dizziness creates a temporary imbalance that can be mild or severe depending on the individual. In some cases, vertigo can cause vomiting or nausea and sometimes it signals a serious balance disorder.
The inner ear plays an important role in balance. The saccule and utricle are two structures in the ear that detect gravity and signal your body about its orientation in space. When you move from a standing position to a lying position, these structures are responsible for directing blood flow in response to the position change. You may feel dizzy if there is a malfunction of this process.
BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, is the result of a mechanical problem within the ear. Sensing crystals, called octoconia, and calcium inside the ear help you maintain balance. If they are knocked loose and travel through the ear canal, it will cause you to feel like you are spinning. This is a problem that often affects elderly individuals, but adults in any age group may experience it. Physical therapy is the most effective treatment for this condition.
Among the most serious causes of dizziness is heart disease. Atherosclerosis, atrial fibrillation and narrow or leaky heart valves are conditions that can cause you feel dizzy. The sensation is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain.
Other common causes of dizziness include a vitamin B12 deficiency, anxiety and dehydration.
If you experience dizziness or vertigo that interferes with normal activity, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional. The only way to know for sure if it is caused by a minor condition or a major health problem is to have a physician perform an examination and provide an accurate diagnosis.
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