Vertigo is a symptom, not a condition. It is characterized as the sensation of spinning and feeling dizzy and unbalanced. Theses sensations can range in intensity from mild or severe and last for seconds or persist for days. Dizziness can be the result of relatively minor medical issue, such as an ear infection, or a more serious neurogenic or cardiogenic problem.
The two main causes are neurogenic (produced by nerves) or cardiogenic (produced by the heart). Some people have a disorder called “orthostatic hypotension” which can be caused by sudden upright movement which may cause fainting. This can happen when the person gets up from sitting or laying down too quickly or a sudden rotation of their head. Another type of syncope is vasovagal syncope, caused by a combination of the blood vessels and the vagus nerve, which is used to slow down your body’s processes. Dizziness should never be ignored. Determining the cause requires a medical evaluation and testing.
Unexplained dizziness, vertigo and fainting are diagnosed via a test called the tilt table test. Prior to the test, patients fast for 3 hours to minimize their risk of nausea during the procedure. To begin, the patient lies down on the tilt table to be prepared for the exam. An intravenous line is inserted, and an EKG and blood pressure cuff are worn to monitor vital signs during the procedure. Velcro straps secure the patient onto the table for safety. The patient lies flat for about 15 minutes in order to obtain “baseline vital signs.” Next, the table is quickly tilted to raise the body to a head-up position — simulating a change in position from lying down to standing up. The table then remains upright for up to 45 minutes, while the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure are monitored. This allows doctors to evaluate the body's cardiovascular response to the change in position.