Vertigo Due to Vestibular Disorder

The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that are involved with controlling balance and eye movements. Any damage to these can lead to Vertigo – a sensation of dizziness which makes one feel as if everything around them is spinning. Besides the spinning sensation, imbalance, unsteadiness, disorientation and nausea and vomiting may also be symptoms that accompany vertigo. 

Vertigo is not a disease, but is rather a symptom of neurological vestibular disorder. Some common vestibular disorders which can cause vertigo include:

  • Acoustic Neuroma: It is a tumour on the nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain, with symptoms of gradual hearing loss and tinnitus (buzzing and ringing in the ear) along with vertigo.

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: A balance and vertigo disorder caused by irregular movement of small particles or crystals in the inner ear. 

  • Labyrinthitis: An inner ear disorder caused by inflammation of the part of the inner ear responsible for balance due to a viral infection.

  • Meniere’s disease: A disorder of the inner ear due to abnormal amount of fluid. 

  • Cholesteatoma: Abnormal skin growth in the middle ear behind the eardrum is called cholesteatoma

It is a common mistake to dismiss symptoms of vertigo as mere headache. However, persistent vertigo that does not improve with time or repeated episodes of vertigo should not be ignored and must be evaluated by a doctor.​​​

The most apparent symptom of vertigo is dizziness, which is a spinning sensation or the feeling that everything around you is moving. The following are some symptoms generally associated with vertigo:

  • ​Light-headedness.

  • A feeling that you will faint.

  • Unsteadiness or imbalance.

  • Disorientation.

  • Mild to severe hearing loss.

  • Disturbances in vision.

  • Nausea or vomiting.

  • Motion sickness.

  • Sensation of fullness in the ears.

  • Psychological effects, such as anxiety and depression.

  • ​Tinnitus or ringing/buzzing in the ear.​​

​You may have experienced vertigo at some point in your life. However, recurring episodes of vertigo or persistent vertigo with symptoms that do not improve in a few days should be evaluated by your doctor. If your symptoms get very severe, you must seek immediate medical help.

You can be assured of receiving the best quality medical care at The Aga Khan University Hospital, the only internationally accredited hospital of Pakistan. We have an internationally accredited staff at the Eye and ENT Service Line with whom you can safely and privately discuss your symptoms, gain advice and receive personalized treatment and care.​​

​Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​​

Diagnosis of your vertigo will be focused on identifying the vestibular disorder causing it. Besides taking your medical history, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and look inside the ear with a special lighted instrument to observe any obvious symptoms, such as redness in the ear. The doctor will ask you to change your head position and observe signs of dizziness and eye movement at certain head positions.

Most of the patients will undergo hearing tests. Some patients may need MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanning.

Other tests include ENG (Electronystagmography) and VNG (Videonystagmography), which are special tests using batteries to monitor eye movement with the help of video cameras and electrodes. Similar other tests may also be conducted to identify specific cause of vertigo. 

Your doctor will also conduct hearing tests to identify any changes in your hearing ability. Besides these, imaging tests such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (Computerized Tomography) scan can also be requested to investigate the presence of tumours or other problems with the inner ear that might cause dizziness or vertigo. Allergy tests, blood tests and vision tests may also be requested to assess the possibility of any other disorder causing vertigo.​​

Vertigo treatment will depend on the specific cause identified. Once identified, your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan to treat the particular vestibular disorder. In case no particular cause of vertigo is identified, treatment will focus on managing the symptoms of vertigo so that they do not interfere with your normal daily activities.

Some treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy to help strengthen the vestibular sensory system, which include general conditioning exercises.

  • At-home exercises assigned by the physical or occupational therapist to be performed at a prescribed pace.

  • Counselling to cope with psychological effects of vertigo, such as anxiety and depression.

  • Vestibular suppressant medications to reduce motion sickness or nausea. 

​When the conservative treatment methods described above do not prove to be successful with your vertigo, your doctor may suggest surgery. The specific surgical procedure to be used will depend on the diagnosis made about your condition. There are risks and complications associate with surgery, but there are benefits as far as treating severe symptoms of vertigo are concerned. Talk with your doctor at The Aga Khan University Hospital about any treatment before you try it to find out how useful it might be especially surgical procedures. ​​

​The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​​

​Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage​​

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider. ​