Saturday, 30 November 2013

Vertigo - The Causes

Vertigo is defined as a condition of dizziness of feeling of spinning, or swaying when one is stationary. Dizziness is a general, non-specific term to indicate a sense of disorientation. Some researchers suggested that vertigo is a subtype of dizziness and refers to an erroneous perception of self- or object-motion or an unpleasant distortion of static gravitational orientation that is a result of a mismatch between vestibular, visual, and somatosensory systems, affecting approximately 20-30% of the general population(1) and about two to three times higher in women than in men.

The Causes
1. DR. Karatas M. at the Baskent University, Medical School, Adana Research Center in a study of Central vertigo and dizziness: epidemiology, differential diagnosis, and common causes indicated that central causes are responsible for almost one-fourth of the dizziness experience by patients. The patient's history, neurologic examination, and imaging studies are usually the key to differentiation of peripheral and central causes of vertigo. The most common central causes of dizziness and vertigo are  
a. cerebrovascular disorders related to the vertebrobasilar circulation,  
b. migraine, 
c. multiple sclerosis, 
d. tumors of the posterior fossa, 
e. neurodegenerative disorders, 
f.  some drugs, and 
g. psychiatric disorders.(4)

2. Stroke
Stroke accounts for 3-7% among all causes of vertigo. The blood perfusion to the inner ear, brainstem, and cerebellum arise from the vertebrobasilar system. Vertigo, nausea, and vomiting, along with nystagmus, represent symptoms of stroke in posterior fossa due to arterial occlusion or rupture of the vertebrobasilar system. However, the spectrum of signs and symptoms as a manifestation of stroke associated with dizziness and vertigo may be variable depending on the affected vascular territories(1)

3. Meniere's disease
Meniere's disease is a clinical syndrome characterized by spontaneous episodes of recurrent vertigo, sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus and aural fullness and familial Meniere's disease in around 10-20% of cases. An international collaborative effort to define the clinical phenotype and recruiting patients with migrainous vertigo and Meniere's disease is ongoing for genome-wide association studies(5).

4. Diabetes
Some researchers at the GENyO Pfizer-Universidad de Granada suggested that suggest that type 1 diabetes mellitus is associated with cupular and free-floating deposits in the semicircular canals. The patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus with a longer duration of disease have an increased probability of suffering from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo(6).

5. Head trauma
It is well known that head trauma may cause hearing loss, which can be either conductive or sensorineural. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and olfactory dysfunction due to head trauma are also well known(7).

6. Syphilis
Syphilis is a chronic, systemic and sexually transmitted infectious disease affecting most of the organs in the body. A young African man presented with vertigo, unsteadiness of gait and a skin rash suggestive of secondary syphilis. Diagnosis was confirmed on serology and was treated with two shots of long-acting penicillin, following which his symptoms settled(8).

7. Benign positional vertigo (BPV) 
Benign positional vertigo (BPV) is the most common cause of episodic vertigo. It results from activation of semicircular canal receptors by the movement of calcium carbonate particles (otoconia) which dislodge from the otolith membranes. During changes in head position, the otoconia either float freely within the semicircular canal duct (canalithiasis) or adhere to and move with the cupula of the canal (cupulolithiasis). BPV from canalithiasis evokes brief spells of vertigo lasting seconds and can be diagnosed at the bedside by provoking paroxysmal vertigo and nystagmus on tilting the head in the plane of the affected canal. The nystagmus has a unique rotational axis perpendicular to the affected canal(9)
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