Many words are used to describe dizziness. These include disorientation, imbalance, light-headedness and swaying but true vertigo is characterized by a spinning sensation. Vertigo can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sweating. For some sufferers, dizziness can last only a few short seconds while others may experience dizziness for much longer periods. Imbalance symptoms can afflict all age groups, but it is most common in older people.
Our vestibular system helps us maintain the orientation of our bodies in space and helps us keep our posture and sense of balance. It helps us regulate our movements and focus visually while our bodies are in motion. The balance system uses sensory information from the vestibular organs (balance organs in the inner ear), the visual system, and the proprioceptive system (muscles). Sensory nerves associated with our eyes, muscles, and joints send their signals to the spinal cord and brain. All these parts work together to help us keep our balance.
The inner ear contains three semicircular canals that are responsible for gathering information about the position and movement of the head and body. Inside the canals is a fluid called endolymph. When you move your head, the endolymph moves, causing information to be sent to the brain about the body’s position.