The word vertigo is derived from the Latin phrase verto, which means, “to revolve”. Vertigo is a false sense of motion, spinning or feeling of imbalance. Sufferers often call it dizziness, imbalance, light-headedness or “chakkar aana (vertigo meaning in hindi)”.
Often the imbalance is associated with nausea, vomiting or unsteadiness on walking. It may worsen when you move your head. Vertigo should not be mixed up with acrophobia, which is an extreme fear of heights.
Vertigo and dizziness are common complaints presented by patients to doctors of all specialties, and they affect all age groups. It is a fact that 20-40% people are affected by dizziness at some point in time in their life; 15% people have dizziness; 5% have vertigo in any given year; 2.5% of all primary care visitors report dizziness, and 2-3% of emergency visits in the developed world is for vertigo.
But it must be noted that vertigo is not a disease. It is only a symptom of a disorder. Therefore, suppressing the symptom is not the solution. Proper diagnosis of what is causing vertigo/dizziness is possible only when the doctor makes a systematic evaluation. A neuro-otological workup alone will help to find out if a vertigo patient is suffering from disorders like BPPV, Meniere’s Disease, Vestibular Neuritis, Labyrinthitis, Acoustic Neuroma, Otolith Dysfunction, Vestibular Migraine, Central Vestibulopathy or psychogenic disorders.
Different disorders causing vertigo have different presentations and require diverse treatment protocols. A correct diagnosis will enable the doctor to offer the right treatment, which is the only way to give the patient lasting benefit