What causes dizziness, vertigo, vertigo? We know the main causes

What causes dizziness, vertigo, vertigo? We know the main causes
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Head spinning, vertigo, vertigo means a state of change in the perception of the position of the body in space. Spinning or swaying, unsteady posture, walking and bumping into objects are among the most common symptoms.

Dizziness, vertigo or, in technical Latin, vertigo refers to a condition of a morbid change in the perception of the position of the body in space. More precisely, vertigo is described as a state of non-specific spatial disorientation and disturbance of balance.

The person perceives the head spinning or the world spinning around, or wobbling, which is accompanied by other subjective discomforts. Examples include a feeling of fainting, nausea, nausea or vomiting, visual disturbances (double vision) to visual disorientation and often tinnitus.

It occurs in children, adults and the elderly, and it occurs all over the world.

After pain, dizziness is the second most common reason to visit a doctor.

It is estimated that dizziness affects 20-30% of the world's population.
Almost everyone will experience it at least once in their lifetime.
It affects one in two people over 60.
It affects 50-60% of people over 75.

What causes vertigo, you ask? In this case, there is no clear-cut answer.

Dizziness is not a disease, it's a symptom. That's why you have to look for the cause.

At the base, it can be a minor functional disorder of the cervical spine, but also a more serious neurological or internal medicine disease. Last but not least, a psychiatric disorder is also a possibility.

Diagnosis is very important, because it is not possible to simply determine the diagnosis behind this unpleasant perception. Do not underestimate the dizziness. Get yourself examined.

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In this article we give the basic classification of vertigo and also the main causes.

What is vertigo and how does it manifest itself?

Vertigo is a feeling of disturbed perception of position, movement and balance in space. It is a spatial disorientation, a feeling of uncertainty when standing or walking. It is a subjective feeling that each person may describe differently.

It does not have to be just the world spinning around or wobbling, but any feeling that is associated with a disturbance in the perception of oneself in space. An example is a state resembling drunkenness.

It is a disturbance of perception, an illusion - a sensation of the body moving in relation to the environment or the environment moving in relation to the body. Simply, the world spins around a person even when he is standing. Or vice versa - a person spins in the world even when he is actually standing.

Someone is affected by a fainting sensation, another describes a feeling of dazedness or also visual disorientation, an imbalance when walking or standing. Someone feels the world spinning when lying down, another reports a problem with changing position to standing, sometimes dizziness persists in any position.

Perception of position, movement and orientation in space + division of the disorder

Orientation in space is acquired by a complex mechanism. It involves sensorimotor functions that acquire information through the cooperation of visual sensations, sensations of the auditory-position (statoacoustic) apparatus (inner ear) and receptors in the muscles and locomotor system.

Vertigo results when signals from the periphery are incorrectly or incorrectly evaluated, or the processing centre in the central area - i.e. the brain - is damaged. In addition, the disorder can involve both compartments (i.e. peripheral and central) and is mixed in nature.

Accordingly, dizziness is also classified as peripheral or central.

A peripheral disorder occurs when there is a change involving the inner ear and the vestibular apparatus, the nerve.

A central disturbance may involve the centres that cooperate in the evaluation, that is, the cerebellum, the brainstem, the thalamus or the cerebral cortex.

These two disorders differ from each other in characteristic features:

  1. peripheral = dizziness is abrupt, sudden
    • last for a short time, seconds, tens of seconds, minutes, sometimes hours
    • worsen with change in body position
    • + the person feels the body pulling sideways
    • eye movement, eyeballs - nystagmus
    • hearing disturbances and humming, whistling in the ears - tinnitus
    • nausea, vomiting
  2. central = can also arise suddenly and violently, but...
    • have a longer duration
    • are usually milder in intensity
    • position and change of position has no effect
    • unsteady gait
    • sensation of floating in space
    • visual disturbances
    • other neurological symptoms are also associated

+ Dizziness is divided according to whether or not it is due to a disorder of the vestibular apparatus. It is divided into vestibular dizziness and non-vestibular dizziness.

In vestibular disorders, there is a disturbance in the function of the semicircular canals (the labyrinth of the inner ear and the statoacoustic apparatus) or of the system of small crystals, the otoliths, with motor, rotational or unidirectional movement.

Non-vestibular position perception disorder can be caused by a wide range of diseases, from the cardiovascular system to the nervous system. It can have a metabolic cause and also arises as a result of a non-serious functional block of the cervical spine.

The main causes of vertigo are...

The causes can be numerous and sometimes the basis of the disease remains unknown.

We know serious, less serious and non-serious causes of vertigo.

The main causes of vertigo are:

  1. diseases of the inner ear - 30 to 50%.
  2. internal diseases - 5 to 30 %
  3. neurological diseases - 2 to 30 %
  4. psychiatric disorders 15-50 %
  5. cervical spine problems - up to 50%
  6. unknown cause - up to 50%

The table provides information on the main causes of vertigo

Group Cause
Diseases of the inner ear
  • Vestibular neuritis - nerve inflammation with associated vomiting
  • labyrinthitis - severe vertigo, nausea, vomiting, imbalance
    • viral infection of the inner ear
  • benign paroxysmal positional vertigo - acute attacks of vertigo, usually provoked by the position and posture of the head, with associated nystagmus
    • the most common type of vertigo
    • mechanical disorder of the inner ear is assumed
  • Meniere's disease - repeated attacks of vertigo with tinnitus, pressure in the ears, hearing loss, associated nausea, vomiting, nystagmus and falls
    • unknown cause
  • physiological vertigo - no disease process, arises due to physiological mechanism
    • kinetosis - motion sickness - motion sickness, dizziness and nausea arise from a mismatch between motion perception and visual perception, on a boat (seasickness) or in a car (travelling in the back seat)
      • A person in a car is reading a book or looking at a phone - static perception. The car is moving and the positional apparatus perceives this as movement. This creates a discrepancy between visual and positional perception
    • Alternobaric vertigo - pressure difference between the middle ear when the Eustachian tube is blocked, when flying, diving, more pronounced transition with pressure difference
    • altitudinal vertigo - when looking down perpendicularly from above, especially at high altitudes
    • weightless vertigo - without the influence of gravity, the tiny crystals of the static apparatus move chaotically
    • vertigo with extreme head tilt - example with hanging curtains, reduced blood flow in the vertebral arteries
  • decompression sickness
  • vestibular migraine - association of dizziness and migraine, unknown cause
  • drug and toxic vertigo - carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide intoxication, some drugs, atropine, barbiturates, salicylates, alcohol, nicotine, metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, but also toluene, hydrogen sulphide and other poisons and poisons
Internal diseases
Neurological diseases
  • disorders and diseases of the central nervous system - brain
  • stroke
  • brain tumour
  • damage to the brain, brain stem
  • after head and brain injuries, concussion, read also How to recognise concussion in children
  • multiple sclerosis
  • epilepsy
Psychiatric disorders
  • Psychogenic vertigo is common and is often described by the person concerned as losing control on the edge of a precipice
  • Vertigo from stress is common, especially with prolonged and excessive psychological overload
Vertigo and the cervical spine
  • disorders of the cervical spine and neck muscles are often involved
  • Arteria vertebralis syndrome, compression of the arteria vertebralis, more common in elderly people who have blood vessels affected by atherosclerosis, head position in full tilt, as when hanging curtains, plus with arms stretched upwards
  • pathological information from cervical sensory receptors
  • compression of the cervical spinal cord - most often by a disc - by the bulging of the intervertebral disc
  • injuries
    • whiplash injury, car accidents - during sudden head movement
  • leakage of cerebrospinal fluid (liquor) in traumatic rupture of the root sheath with symptoms such as vertigo, nystagmus, visual disturbances, tinnitus, hearing impairment
  • Barré-Lieou syndrome - headache, vertigo, tinnitus, visual blurring
  • in cervicocranial injuries
  • pseudoradicular syndrome and radicular syndrome - cervicocranial and cervicobrachial syndrome
Head spinning from the cervical spine can have several causes:
  1. Chronic non-physiological loading of the cervical spine.
  2. lack of physical activity
  3. when exercising under excessive physical load, in strength sports, bodybuilding
  4. inadequate warm-up before physical exercise
  5. prolonged rigid position of the cervical spine
  6. muscle stiffness and poor positioning during sleep
  7. exposure of the cervical spine to draughts, air conditioning
  8. congenital and functional deformities in the area of the transition of the cervical spine to the skull
+ The neck has been adapted to movement, rotation, prone and supine position of the head The cervical spine is inappropriately overloaded for long periods of time due to sedentary lifestyle and working at a computer, handling mobile devices. This results in various functional disorders and these are closely related to difficulties such as headaches or dizziness (cervicocranial syndrome and cervical vertigo) + the transfer of pain between the shoulder blades and to the upper limbs (cervico-brachial syndrome) + Read more in the article:
How the cervical spine and vertigo are related
Unknown cause
  • 50% of cases of vertigo may not have a known cause

If your cervical spine hurts, also read:
3symptoms that accompany cervical spine pain

Head spinning at night and lying down?

With the spinning and swaying also comes fatigue.

This arises as a result of sleep disturbance, while it also accompanies chronic fatigue syndrome. Long-term fatigue, malaise, due to overload of the body, prolonged and excessive work, physical or mental, mental stress is the basis of the problem.

Does your head spin when you change position?

Think of low blood pressure. It happens especially if you jump to your feet immediately after waking up.

That's why it's important to follow a few guidelines when getting up from a lying position:

  1. in the morning after waking up, it is advisable to lie down for a short time
  2. then sit up with your feet on the bed or mat
  3. then hang your lower limbs off the bed or mat
  4. sit down
  5. and then stand up
  6. Alternatively, you can have a glass of water by the bedside for the morning and have a drink before you stand up and take your first step.

This process may take two minutes (maybe 5 minutes for some), but you won't have a problem with morning dizziness or collapse immediately upon waking.

Orthostatic collapse, syncope or fainting. Basically similar technical terms that differ slightly...

When standing up quickly from a lower position, there is literally no time to equalize the pressure in the blood vessels. The brain is not sufficiently blooded and the person feels faint, dizzy, even faint. In addition to this, he may feel a rush of heat, sudden sweating, blackness before the eyes, heart palpitations to speed up the heartbeat or whistling and humming in the ears, as well as weakness in the legs.

And suddenly he's on the ground. After a brief period of unconsciousness, the pressure differential adjusts, the brain re-circulates and the person regains full consciousness.


In addition to getting up, dizziness and similar difficulties may be associated with bending over or lifting a heavy load from a prone position.

These conditions are risky in terms of head injury.

A person doesn't regain consciousness after a few seconds or a minute?

Changes at the level of the vascular system (and others) may be to blame, especially in beginning smokers. But the negative effects of smoking have a much longer list than just unpleasant dizziness.

Dizziness in pregnancy and during the cycle

The early signs and signals of pregnancy can include dizziness. The connection can be sought in increased fatigue, for hormonal and various bodily changes.

Among the initial signs of pregnancy can be listed:

  • skipping menstruation
  • increased nipple sensitivity
  • breast enlargement
  • change in vaginal discharge
  • changes in appetite, possibly lack of appetite or stomach pain
  • nausea and morning sickness, but can occur at any time of the day
  • a feeling of bloating and fullness in the abdomen
  • general digestive problems
  • mood changes, tearfulness
  • increased fatigue
  • dizziness
  • and other

Of course, these are individual manifestations. There are women who have no problems.

Weakness, fatigue or feeling faint is often underestimated. Women attribute the difficulties to normal physiological changes or dehydration.

If a woman feels dizzy or faint, she should sit down or squat. This will prevent injury in the event of a collapse.

Please note: If this is not a one-off or rare condition, but constant vertigo is present, a specialist examination is required.

Read also.

The association of vertigo with hormonal changes is also found during the normal menstrual cycle, especially before menstruation. Alternatively, worsened vertigo occurs in the case of heavy or prolonged bleeding or intense pain.

Changes in hormone levels also occur during menopause.

What is vertigo and how it manifests itself

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