Most of us experience dizziness at some point. For many, the symptoms will pass after a short time. Others may live with this unnerving sensation for an extended time — making them feel nauseated, be unsteady on their feet, or even be unable to go about their daily lives.
While there are many potential causes of dizziness and vertigo, it can be caused by head trauma. This may be the result of a car accident. Learning more about how a vehicle crash can cause dizziness or vertigo can help you get the appropriate treatment after an accident.
A compassionate Washington, D.C. car accident attorney can work with you to help you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Starting with a free initial consultation, where you can learn about your rights and options, your lawyer will advocate for you and help you obtain a fair settlement or court judgment. Read on to learn more about the connection between vertigo, dizziness, and car accidents.
Understanding Dizziness and Vertigo
Dizziness is a term that we may use to describe a sensation of feeling faint, weak, unsteady or woozy. While some of us chased the feeling of dizziness as kids, if you experience this symptom as an adult, it can make it difficult to perform basic tasks like driving, walking, or working.
Dizziness is a description of symptoms that may be caused by any number of conditions, such as a drop in blood pressure, neurological issues, medications, dehydration, and low blood sugar. In contrast, vertigo is a specific medical condition that causes a false sensation that your surroundings are spinning or moving. Vertigo is caused by a problem within the inner ear.
If you are experiencing dizziness, you should seek medical treatment to determine the underlying cause, such as an infection, injury or another health issue. A doctor will use a variety of exams, such as blood tests, head movement testing, and eye movement testing, to diagnose and treat your dizziness. Treatment may include medication, therapy, and/or surgical procedures such as injections or removing the part of your affected ear that controls balance.
Vertigo has a number of potential causes, such as injury, infection, Meniere’s disease, migraines and a condition known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo. While many cases of BPPV do not have a known cause, when a cause is determined, it is most often associated with trauma, such as a blow to the head.
BPPV causes brief episodes of dizziness that ranges from mild to severe, which are often triggered by a person moving their head. Symptoms of BPPV may include:
- A sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving
- Loss of balance
Because BPPV can cause a person to be unsteady on their feet, falling is a serious risk of this condition.
To diagnose BPPV, a physician may perform a series of physical exams to determine when you experience dizziness. An MRI and tests to detect abnormal eye movement may also be used. BPPV is treated in a number of ways, such as through physical therapy or surgery to block the portion of your inner ear that is causing dizziness.
How Car Accidents May Cause Dizziness or Vertigo
After a car accident, you may suffer from dizziness or vertigo. This can happen in a number of ways.
Whiplash is a common injury suffered in motor vehicle accidents, particularly after a rear-end collision. Whiplash occurs when your head and neck are suddenly pitched forward and then backward. The force of this motion can cause damage to the tendons and muscle fibers in your neck.
According to a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), whiplash does not just cause neck injuries, but may also harm the brainstem — even without direct damage to the head or neck. In approximately 25 to 50% of whiplash cases, patients report experiencing vertigo and/or dizziness. After a patient suffers whiplash, they may experience a variety of symptoms, including dizziness and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Although a high percentage of patients who suffer a whiplash injury have symptoms of vertigo and dizziness, it is often difficult to diagnose. This may indicate that vertigo and dizziness are related to an injury to the brain or brainstem — even if there are no objective findings on tests such as MRIs.
Because there is a strong correlation between whiplash injuries and vertigo or dizzinesses, if you have suffered a whiplash injury, you should seek medical treatment immediately. You should also follow up if you experience signs of vertigo. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medications or treatments to alleviate these symptoms.
Any type of injury to the cervical spine, or your neck, can lead to a number of related symptoms. This may include headaches, neck pain, vertigo and/or dizziness. Cervicogenic injuries are often related to whiplash.
After an injury to the cervical spine, a patient may experience cervicogenic dizziness. A person with this condition may experience imbalance, unsteadiness, neck pain, limited range of motion, disorientation, and headaches. Cervicogenic dizziness is diagnosed when a person experiences these symptoms based on the movement of the cervical spine.
Traumatic Brain Injury or Concussion
A blow to your head or brain can lead to a traumatic brain injury or a concussion. These types of injuries can produce many symptoms, depending on their severity. For some individuals, vertigo and dizziness may occur in the days, weeks, or months following a brain injury or concussion.
Vertigo, dizziness and a feeling of being off-balance are common after a brain injury. This may be due to trauma to the central nervous system or the peripheral vestibular system (the balance mechanism in the inner ear).
If you experience dizziness after a concussion or brain injury, speak to your medical provider about possible treatment options. Medication and physical therapy may help to reduce these symptoms.
Injury to the Temporal Bone
The temporal bones are a pair of bones that forms part of the side of the skull, and which enclose the middle and inner ear. Any type of temporal bone trauma, including a fracture, can cause damage to the brain, the middle and internal ear, and the facial nerve. Temporal bone injuries are usually caused by blunt trauma to the head; the most common cause is motor vehicle accidents.
Any type of injury to one or both temporal bones can cause a range of serious complications. This may include hearing loss, vertigo, dizziness, facial paralysis, hemorrhaging, and/or a leak of cerebral spinal fluid. Typically, symptoms of dizziness and/or vertigo are noticed after a person is able to walk again post-injury.
A temporal bone fracture or injury is a serious and dangerous medical condition. Seek medical treatment immediately if you suspect that you have suffered damage to your temporal bone.
Suffering from Vertigo or Dizziness After a Car Accident? We Can Help.
There are a number of reasons why a person may suffer from dizziness and vertigo after being injured in a car accident. In most cases, it is a sign that you have suffered damage to your head or neck. A Washington, D.C. car accident attorney assists you in recovering compensation for the full scope of your injuries — which may include past and future medical treatment for vertigo and dizziness.
Patrick Malone & Associates prides itself on our advocacy for victims of all types of accidents. We have helped thousands of D.C.-area clients obtain a fair settlement or jury verdict for their injuries. Call us today at 202-742-1500 or contact us online to learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation.