Vertigo is often confused with dizziness. Vertigo refers to a spinning sensation in which the individual is spinning or feels the world is spinning around them. The spinning can be left, right, up, or down.
Dizziness, on the other hand, makes people feel unsteady and may be described as a rocking side-to-side or back-to-back.
Another form of dizziness is seen with motion sickness in which the brain does not appropriately process the incoming information. This can make it hard for an individual to be a passenger in a car, watch 3-D movies, or see rapidly moving images.
One of the most common causes of dizziness or vertigo is from a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). These injuries have the ability to negatively influence the balance centers. This results in feeling unsteady when eyes are closed, at night, or when the balance is challenged.
Other causes of vertigo include debris in the inner ear, infections, stroke, traumatic brain injury, eye movement dysfunction, mal de debarquement, and even tumors.
How We Balance
Balance and vertigo are controlled by the brain’s ability to process input from different body systems:
- Vestibular (a reflexive balance system involving our inner ear)
- Somatosensory (sensory information from the muscles and joints of the legs)
When one of these systems are off it provides the brain with bad information. The brains job is to take all of the information and provide a response of what the world is doing. This is why with vertigo or dizziness individuals will feel off balance, rocking, oscillating, or spinning sensations.