People suffering from unexplained bouts of headaches should visit a doctor as soon as possible, as the headaches could result from central vertigo, which can indicate a cerebral stroke, vascular disease in the brain stem or cerebral tumors, a doctor said.
A 75-year-old woman, surnamed Lin Huang (林黃), complained of severe vertigo and was often referred to Lin Shin Medical Hospital in Taichung, Department of Emergency Medicine doctor Yang Ching-hsu (楊景旭) said.
Changes in temperature could bring about abnormal vascular contractions due to her hypertension, and her vertigo and heart palpitations could cause the dysrhythmia, Yang said.
Lin Huang was diagnosed with peripheral vertigo, not central vertigo, Yang added.
A common symptom, vertigo can stem from relatively minor conditions such as anemia or migraines, or be caused by more severe conditions such as a stroke or tumors, Yang said, adding that it is important to determine the type of vertigo that a person is experiencing.
Yang said that in one type of vertigo the person feels that the world is spinning around them, resulting in nausea, while in another the person’s head feels heavy and they feel light on their feet, accompanied by occasional blackouts of vision and a sense of imbalance.
Most vertigo is categorized as peripheral vertigo, which is primarily due to imbalanced blood circulation in the peripheral nerves and the inner ear, Yang said, adding that tinnitus, nausea and vomiting are common accompanying symptoms.
Yang said that contracting a cold or getting a respiratory tract infection can cause inflammation in the vestibular system, leading to peripheral vertigo.
Central vertigo is accompanied by different symptoms, such as migraines, unsteady steps, weakness on one side of the body or the inability to clearly articulate speech, Yang said.
This type of vertigo will not get better without intervention, he added.
People older than 55 or those in the high-risk group for stroke — those with hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, obesity, cardiovascular disease, or a smoking or drinking habit — should visit a doctor promptly if they experience vertigo to determine whether it is central vertigo, Yang said.
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