vertigo vûr´tĭgō [key], sensations of moving in space or of objects moving about a person and the resultant difficulty in maintaining equilibrium. True vertigo, as distinguished from faintness, lightheadedness, and other forms of dizziness, occurs as a result of a disturbance of some part of the body's balancing mechanism, located in the inner ear (e.g., vestibule, semicircular canals, auditory nerves). Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the most common kind, is the result of the displacement some of the calcium carbonate crystals (otoconia) from a fluid-filled cavity (the utricle) in the labyrinth of the ear into the semicircular canals, where they interfere with normal fluid movement. In many cases, BPPV may be treated by maneuvers designed to reposition the crystals that are easily done by a health-care provider. Labyrinthitis, or infection and irritation of the middle and inner ear, also is a common cause of vertigo, as is Ménière's disease. Correction or elimination of the mechanical, infectious, toxic, or environmental factors underlying the disturbance is essential for permanent relief.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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