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Vertigo Causes & Risks


Vertigo is usually caused by problems in the nerves and structures of the inner ear, called the vestibular system. This system senses the position of your head and body in space as they move.

Vertigo can occur with the following conditions:

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Tiny particles naturally present in the canals of the inner ear, dislodge, and move abnormally when the head is tilted, pushing ear fluid against hair-like sensors in the ear. BPPV may result from:

  • Head injury
  • Infections
  • Disorders of the inner ear
  • Age-related breakdown of the vestibular system
  • Labyrinthitis (vestibular neuritis)—inflammation of the inner ear, often follows an upper respiratory infection

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

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Meniere's Disease

This condition results from fluid buildup in the part of the inner ear called the labyrinth. This vertigo usually occurs along with hearing loss and tinnitus .

Acoustic Neuroma

This is a slow-growing, noncancerous tumor of the acoustic nerve. The tumor can press against the nerves of hearing which can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear).

Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency

This refers to diminished blood flow to the base of the brain often caused by atherosclerosis (deposits of fat in the arteries). It is usually accompanied by other neurological symptoms.

Medications and Other Substances

Examples include:

  • Aspirin
  • Streptomycin
  • Gentamicin
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antihypertensives
  • Tranquilizers

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

Risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Head injury
  • Viral upper respiratory infection
  • Cerebrovascular disease—deposits of fat in blood vessels leading to the brain

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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