Vertigo can be defined as “a sensation of motion in which the individual or the individual’s surroundings seem to whirl dizzy” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 2009 [4]).

Vertigo can also be refereed to as a “sensation of dizziness”, Free Online Dictionary, 2009 [((bibcite, 2009a))]).

Theoretical frame

Vertigo is a broad term which encompasses any false sensation of movement. Or in general terms it is commenly referred to as dizziness. Vertigo occurs as a result of dysfunction of the vestibular system either centrally or periphery (Gelb, 2005 [3]). When one feels that he/she is moving with respect to steady surrounding is called subjective vertigo and if one feels the surrounding is moving is called as objective vertigo. Vertigo is caused by problems in either brain or inner ear

Causes of Vertigo (Cunha, 2009 [1])

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is very common and is caused by feeling of movement lead by rapid head movements or motion of head in certain direction. This type of vertigo is not considered as serious and can be treated.
  • Vertigo is also caused by irritation or swelling inside the inner ear (labyrinthitis) caused by viral or bacteria infection. Such inflammation inside the inner ear is commonly the beginning of vertigo.
  • Vertigo can also be caused by acoustic neuroma which is tumor.
  • Decreased blood flow to the base of the brain is also considered as a cause to vertigo
  • Vertigo is also a symptom of multiple sclerosis.
  • Head trauma and Migraine are also causes that may contribute to cause vertigo

Symptoms of Vertigo (Cunha, 2009 [1])

Although the symptoms of vertigo and that of lightheadedness or fainting are different, general public often get confused between these two.

  • Sensation of disorientation
  • Sensation of unexpected drowsy motion
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing sensation in the ears
  • Visual disturbances

If one or more of the following symptoms are apparent, urgent medical treatment is essential

  • Double vision
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Difficulty in walking and balancing
  • Decreased level of consciousness

Treatments for Vertigo (Cunha, 2009 [1])

Method of treatment may depend on the diagnosis and can be taken by means of medicine placed on the skin or taken by mouth or drugs given through IV. Moreover, certain types of vertigo may require specific treatments.

  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections in the middle ear
  • Low salt diet
  • Medicine for extra urine output
  • Surgery for inner ear or nose infection
  • Vestibular rehabilitation exercise
  • Particle repositioning maneuver

Supporting evidence

Supporting Evidence from aviation accident

Flash Airlines Flight 604 crashed into the Red Sea on 3 January 2004 killing 148 poeple aboard. Flight departed at 04:44 (Eastern European Time) from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport heading towards France. The aircraft took an uncommanded right turn soon after take-off. The captain and first officer tried to get the aircraft back on course. However, the turn became worse resulting the aircraft spirals into the sea. The investigation found that the captain was hit by a vertigo which made his control movements opposite to the what he was supposed to do (Flight Safety Foundation, 2009 [2]).

A research carrie out by Sen, Al-Deleamy and Kendirli (2007 [5]) found that Beingn paroxysmal positional vertigo is possible for transporation pilots in certain maneuvers. The clinical study found that vertigo occurs when pilots carried out certain head movements when looking up or rolling over. The study suggests that no Aviation Medical Examiner should issue certificate for any class unless the condition is fully recovered.

Refuting evidence

Way forward (to do list)

1. Cunha, J. P. (2009) Vertigo. Retrieved from on 21 January 2009.
2. Flight Safety Foundation (2009). Accident report: Flash Airlines Flight 604. Retrieved from on 22/01/2009.
3. Gelb, D. J., (2005). Introduction to clinical neuropsychology. (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier/Butterworth Heinemann.
4. MERRIAM-WEBSTER ONLINE DICTIONARY (2005). Retrieved from on 20/01/2009.
5. Sen, A. & Al-Deleamy, L. S. (2007). Benign paroxysnal verigo in an airline pilot. Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine, 78, 11, 1060-1063.

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