Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dizziness versus Vertigo

It’s natural for most people at some time in their life to become lightheaded or dizzy. Whether you are a small child whirling around till your head spins or an older person who stands up to quickly you probably have experienced dizziness. In many of my posts I often write about being dizzy or lightheaded to describe a momentary sensation that is happening to me. This sensation is a far cry from the continual spinning of a vertigo attack which may also last for a few moments or a few hours. My problem has often been wondering whether a slight case of the dizzies will lead to a full blown vertigo attack.

What causes dizziness?

From what I have been told by doctors lightheadedness or dizzy spells is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure which happens when you get out of bed too quickly or stand up too quickly. Of course there are other causes too, like drinking too much or having a bad reaction to a medication. Dehydration is also a cause of dizziness as well as diarrhea and vomiting.

What causes vertigo?

Vertigo as we all too well know is caused by vestibular problems (balance, inner ear problems) with one of the most common being BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). Head movement triggers Vertigo.

In my own case even before I knew about Meniere’s disease I had bad cases of dizziness that would last a while. What caused it? Blood pressure fluctuation? Maybe, or maybe it was just a Meniere’s attack or even vertigo, although I have been tested numerous times for BPPV and I don’t have it.


  1. I have been told that you can have Menières and BPPV at the same time. I have experienced periods with BPPV-vertigo. These vertigo-attacks are shorter, lasts about 1 minute and they always appear while I move my head or eyes in a certain direction. I have got some exercises to get rid of the vertigo which is caused by small crystals of calcium carbonate derived inside the balance system in the inner ear. With the exercises you can re-move the chrystals back where they don´t cause vertigo. With a Menièreattack you cannot do any movements to stop the dizzieness. I think I suffer from a lot of different dizzienesses (?) and it´s hard to know the causes. A slight dizzieness is following me all the time and I also find it hard to know if that´s it or if an attack will follow.

  2. David:
    have followed the blog for a long time, I am facing some difficult decisions in the future with menieres and what route to take. I currently go to Emory clinic in Atlanta, I have decided to reach out to dr Della Santina after reading your blog and doing some research. I will see him in march to make final decision on future treatments. It appears he holds the key with his prosthesis, talked to his office and they are hoping to start trials in next year.
    If your readers/followers want me to ask him any questions I will. He also mentioned a collaboration between genvec and novartis. Apparently genvec has been able to regenerate balance and hearing cells in the inner ear and trials will start soon as well. Genvec website!!!
    Thanks David.

  3. Clearly, I need to check out this Genvec stuff. Thanks for the mention, Thomas.

  4. Thomas,
    Thanks for the comment and let us know how your meeting with Dr. Santina went.