Q. My mom is a healthy 78-year-old woman. While visiting with our family over the holidays, she woke up with extreme dizziness and nausea. After a quick visit to our family doctor, we learned she had ‘vertigo.’ Can you explain what that is?
A. Vertigo is a very disabling symptom characterized by a sensation of movement, usually spinning, similar to the feeling after riding a roller coaster or a ferris wheel. It is associated often with nausea and vomiting as well as difficulty walking or standing. The vast majority of cases are related to an inner ear disorder. Less common causes are stroke and brain tumor. Vertigo is often confused with dizziness which implies lightheadedness and is associated with a far greater number of underlying problems. Only about 5 percent of the population will experience vertigo, and it occurs more frequently in women and the elderly. Vertigo is in no way contagious. In most cases, vertigo is treated effectively and responds well to treatment.
Dr. Timothy A. Strait, Neurosurgeon
Chattanooga Neurosurgery & Spine
1010 E. Third St., Suite 202
Chattanooga, TN 37403