Vertigo: What Is It? Can a Blood Test Detect It?

vertigo-can-blood-test-detectVertigo can be very disorienting. You are fine one minute and the next you feel as if you are a tilt-a-whirl at the fair. Vertigo is a particular type of dizziness known for a spinning sensation. You may feel as if you or the things in the environment around you are rotating. The feeling may come and go, or it can last for days at a time. Nausea and vomiting, headaches, double vision, or a racing heartbeat may also accompany vertigo. Dizziness is near the top of the list for reasons for elderly people go to the emergency department. While not all of them have vertigo, many of them are experiencing this false feeling of movement.

Why Does Vertigo Happen?

Most commonly, vertigo happens due to ear infections or disease of the ear: Meniere’s disease, BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), and vestibular neuritis.

BPPV: This is due to a buildup of calcium in the canals of the inner ear leading to vertigo that lasts from 20 seconds to around 1 minute. When these calcium particles break off and move to the wrong part of the ear, they cause a problem with the signals being sent to the brain. When the brain cannot interpret these signals, vertigo ensues.

Vestibular neuritis: This occurs because of an inner ear infection leading to inflammation around the nerves that help the body detect balance. This starts a bout of vertigo lasting for a day or more and can impact hearing. A person may be dizzy for a day or two and then feel off balance. The Cleveland Clinic reports 95 percent of people make a full recovery and never have it again.

Meniere’s disease: Caused by an abnormal buildup of fluid creating pressure in the inner ear, this leads to a triad of symptoms: vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and hearing loss.

Migraines and brain injuries can also be blamed for vertigo although they are less common.

To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and vertigo download our complimentary e-book How to Naturally Relieve Vertigo without Drugs by clicking the image below.

Kissimmee vertigo specialist

Can Blood Tests Detect Vertigo

There are over 30 blood tests used today to confirm diseases. For example, heart attack patients will have their cardiac enzymes tested; patients with osteoporosis will be tested for a protein in the blood indicating thinning bones. But what about vertigo? Is there a test to detect this common condition or a test for hearing loss?

Dr. Kourosh Parham, associate professor and director of research in the Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, is doing promising research on this very subject. He has discovered that two recently identified inner ear proteins can be found in small quantities in the blood. Their levels correlate with inner ear disorders. There is potential for these biomarkers to help with early detection and diagnosis of hearing loss or vertigo.

Hearing loss is often accompanies vertigo, especially in the case of Meniere’s disease. Hearing loss or tinnitus (also a symptom of Meniere’s) affects close to 50 million people. Sometimes it is inherited or due to prolonged exposure to loud noises or certain medications. Both vertigo and hearing loss can be linked to a problem in the inner ear.

The inner ear contains a small, snail-shaped structure called the cochlea, which is responsible for processing sound. The cochlea has a number of small fluid-filled canals with outer hair cells to manage the cochlea’s ability to tune sound and increase sensitivity to sound. These hairs are the first to get damaged due to loud noise or toxicity.

The blood test Parham is working on can trace the specific protein prestin that is released when the outer hairs become injured. Prestin is found in the inner cellular membranes of the hair cells. From the level of protein in one’s blood, this blood test can tell if there has been inner ear damage and how much hearing loss may be due to it. Parham’s hopes are that it works as well on humans as it has in the laboratory because detecting early warning signs of hearing loss can help manage the condition before permanent damage is done.

Before discovering that this blood test helps detect hearing loss, Parham found that it can also indicate a unique blood biomarker that is positive for BPPV. As mentioned above, the loose crystals associated with this disease trigger vertigo when the head is moved. These crystals, or otoconia, are gravity detectors and help you to keep your balance. They are not supposed to move; however, age and head trauma can cause them to dislocate. Eventually, they dissolve and release a particular protein called Otolin-1. If this protein is found in a blood test, the patient can be diagnosed with BPPV.

Finding Help for Vertigo

It may surprise you vertigo is often linked to neck misalignments rather than ear issues. Often times it is the misalignment causing the problems with the ear. A misaligned C1 or C2 vertebra puts pressure on the brainstem and causes it to send improper signals to the brain about the body’s location. This can be one reason for vertigo. Another possible reason for the balance system in the ear to malfunction is that the eustachian tube can also be affected by a misalignment. It can cause a lesion to form, affecting one’s balance. Therefore, the key to good balance and hearing ability can lie with having a properly aligned spine.

We help our patients to achieve that goal here at Pancake Wellness Center in Kissimmee, Florida. We use a gentle method that does not require us to pop or crack the neck or back to get positive results. Rather, the bones are encouraged through gentle pressure to move back where they belong. Studies reveal this type of care does help ease the symptoms of vertigo. In fact, some patients see their vertigo go away and not return.


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