What Causes Vertigo and How Can You Tell if You Have it?

For film noir fans, the word vertigo conjures images from the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. The movie stars James Stewart as a private investigator who attempts to follow Kim Novak, despite suffering from trauma-induced acrophobia (a fear of heights) and vertigo (a false sense of rotational movement). To emphasize the condition for which Stewart’s character suffers, Hitchcock used clever camera movements and music that create a visual sense of a spiraling free-fall for the viewer.

For the approximately 40 percent of Americans who will experience vertigo in their lives, Hitchcock’s depiction of the condition is all too real, acting as a reminder of the discomfort of this temporary condition. What causes vertigo, and how can you tell if you have it? Our health experts separate the facts from fiction.

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is a sensation of feeling off-balance, often more casually referred to as dizzy spells. Those who experience vertigo often report feeling like they are spinning or that the world around them is spinning while they remain still.

What Causes Vertigo?

Perhaps surprisingly, vertigo is often the result of an inner ear problem.  The inner ear sends signals to the brain about head and body movements relative to gravity which help you to keep your balance. When something disrupts the inner ear’s normal processing, it can result in vertigo.

Frequent causes of vertigo may include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This condition occurs when canaliths (tiny calcium particles) are dislodged from their normal location and collect in the inner ear. It can occur for no reason and is sometimes more common with age.
  • Meniere’s disease. An inner ear disorder that is believed to be caused by a buildup of fluid and changing pressure in the ear that can cause episodes of vertigo, hearing loss, or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
  • Vestibular neuritis (labyrinthitis). An inner ear problem that is usually related to a viral infection. The infection causes inner ear inflammation around nerves that support the body’s sense of balance.

Vertigo may also result from:

  • Migraines
  • A head or neck injury
  • A stroke, tumor, or other brain problems
  • Medications that can cause ear damage

Vertigo Symptoms

Often triggered by a change in head position, symptoms can last a few minutes, a few hours, or come and go intermittently. Symptoms of vertigo often include sensations of:

  • Spinning
  • Tilting
  • Swaying
  • Unbalance
  • Being pulled in one direction
  • Nausea
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Vomiting
  • Nystagmus (abnormal, jerking eye movements)
  • Sweating
  • Headache

What to Do if You Think That You are Experiencing Vertigo?

If you believe you are experiencing vertigo, talk to your doctor. They can determine the underlying condition causing your vertigo sensations and help you reestablish your equilibrium. Depending on the underlying cause of your vertigo, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as dimenhydrinate and meclizine.

August is Psoriasis Action Month, and We Aim to Bring This Condition and Those Living with It Into the Light

No one should feel uncomfortable in their skin, yet for the millions of people living with psoriasis, both the physical discomfort and notable red patches it causes on the skin leave its sufferers feeling insecure and frustrated. Therefore, we recognize Psoriasis Action Month for all those living with this condition. It is a time to elevate awareness and understanding of the condition and encourage those impacted to seek treatment by a medical professional.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common condition that impacts more than three million Americans and more than 100 million people globally, yet much is still unknown as to the exact cause of this uncomfortable condition. With psoriasis, skin cells build upon themselves, forming itchy, scaly, dry patches. Sometimes, the skin rash also impacts the nails and joints, though red patches most commonly appear on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp.

Psoriasis Symptoms include:

  • Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed or itch
  • Itching, burning, or soreness
  • Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
  • Swollen and stiff joints
  • Small scaling spots (most common in children)

Symptom flare-ups can be caused by stress, infections, and cold temperatures. Medical researchers believe that an immune system reaction causes psoriasis. It tends to go through cycles in which symptoms flare for a few weeks or months, then subside or go into remission.

What is Plaque Psoriasis?

The most common type of psoriasis creates dry, raised lesions covered with silvery scales. The plaques might be itchy or tender, typically appearing on elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.

Is there a Cure for Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic disease with no cure; however, treatments are available to help you manage symptoms. If you are diagnosed with psoriasis, your doctor may prescribe a topical ointment, light therapy, or other medications that aim to remove scales and slow the rapid growth of skin cells.

How to Take Part in National Psoriasis Action Month

Whether you live with Psoriasis or want to be an ally for those whose lifestyles have been impacted by this uncomfortable condition, you can help all month (and year) long. The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) offers information, education, and resources about the condition for patients and their loved ones.

One of the most significant positive impacts you can have on a psoriasis patient is to treat them with the same acceptance that you treat all those around you. People with psoriasis are often uncomfortable and insecure about how their skin patches appear and fear being judged or defined by a condition they cannot help and may not fully understand. By showing that you are aware of the challenges of psoriasis and are not uncomfortable with their appearance, you will reaffirm the self-confidence they need to lead their life without social insecurities.

Pregnancy and Asthma: How to Keep Yourself and Your Baby Safe

When you’re carrying the newest member of your family (and the world) in your belly, you have a monumental responsibility to keep yourself and your little one safe and healthy. While no research indicates that women can develop asthma as a direct result of being pregnant, if you have asthma, you could find your symptoms worsening during your pregnancy. Ensure your OBGYN knows about your history with asthma and how you currently manage your condition so that they can provide you with additional guidance during your pregnancy. What follows are answers to some of the most common questions that pregnant mothers ask about the complications of their asthma during their pregnancy.

Does Asthma Worsen During Pregnancy?

Every woman is different. Some report worsening asthma symptoms, some report no change, and others report their symptoms improving. Monitor your symptoms closely and report any worsening to your doctor promptly.

Can Pregnant Mothers Use Asthma Medications?

Your doctor will provide you with guidance on the medications and other treatment options that you can use during your pregnancy. Most asthma medicines are generally safe during pregnancy. However, your doctor will likely tell you not to take sulfonamides during your last trimester to avoid your baby being born with jaundice. Your doctor will also likely tell you not to take any tetracyclines during your pregnancy, as they could cause skeletal or dental deformities in your baby.

Do not immediately stop taking your asthma medication when you learn you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor. An abrupt change in your medication regimen could put you and your baby at risk of a severe asthma attack.

Is it Common to Experience a Severe Asthma Attack During Delivery?

Surprisingly, asthma often improves during labor and delivery. However, if you experience an asthma attack and are delivering your baby in a hospital, your doctor and health care team will be well-prepared to address your symptoms.

Can a Mother Pass Asthma to Her Baby?

Asthma is often inherited. Therefore, if a mother or father has asthma, their child is more likely to have it than a child whose parents do not have asthma; however, it is not guaranteed that the child of a mother with asthma will certainly have the condition.

What are the Risks to a Baby Whose Mother is Pregnant?

A mother is her baby’s lifeline in every possible way. Your baby will depend on you to supply oxygen during their development, which your baby will need for survival. If your asthma is uncontrolled and you experience a dangerous decrease in oxygen, so does your baby, which could result in impaired growth or other health complications.

If you experience severe asthma, your condition may put your baby in danger. Talk to your doctor to ensure you are taking every step to control your asthma during your pregnancy.

August 1 is World Lung Cancer Day, So Show Your Lungs Some Love

The average person breathes in and out 22,000 per day. Twenty-two thousand times each day, your lungs complete a critical, life-sustaining function, and most of the time, it happens without you even noticing it. For this and so many reasons, every August 1, we celebrate World Lung Cancer Day. It is a time to reflect on the vital role of our lungs and commit to making the kind of lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of lung cancer, an often preventable form of cancer. So this year, take a deep breath and give thanks for your ability to do so. If you are one of the millions of people struggling to quit smoking, talk to your doctor or contact the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Smoking Cessation program at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

The Truth About Lung Cancer

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that 38.5 percent of people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and contributes to the most cancer deaths. Fortunately, it is also among the most preventable.

Types of Lung Cancer

There are two primary forms of lung cancer:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This type of lung cancer represents 80 to 85 percent of lung cancers. NSCLC represents three subtypes of lung cancer with similar outlooks and treatment options. The subtypes include adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
    • This form of lung cancer forms in the cells that would normally secrete mucus and other substances. It occurs mainly in current or former smokers. Fortunately, it is also most likely to be identified before it spreads to other parts of the body.
    • Squamous cell carcinoma. This subtype is often linked to a history of smoking and typically forms in the central part of the lungs.
    • Large cell carcinoma. This subtype can appear in any part of the lungs and can grow and spread rapidly.
  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC). This type of lung cancer tends to grow and spread quicker than NSCLC. Unfortunately, in 70 percent of SCLC cases, the cancer will already have spread before a diagnosis is made.

Causes of Lung Cancer

The most significant risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. The length and frequency with which a person smokes can increase the risk of developing lung cancer. In addition, individuals who have never smoked but have been exposed to regular second-hand smoke or other toxins can be at risk of lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Most lung cancer symptoms are respiratory. The most common indicators include:

  • The development of a persistent cough
  • Coughing up small amounts of blood
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

How to Find Smoking Cessation Support

The most critical step that you can take to reduce your chance of developing lung cancer is to quit smoking or help those around you quit if you are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. If you need to quit smoking but have struggled to quit in the past, talk to your doctor. They will be your greatest advocate and help identify the most effective treatment plan depending on your symptoms, history, other health complications, and lifestyle factors. If you’ve been waiting for a powerful impetus to take the first step toward a smoke-free lifestyle, look no further than World Lung Cancer Day. In honor of the 154,050 Americans who will lose their lives this year due to lung cancer, commit to getting help today.

August 1 is World Lung Cancer Day, So Show Your Lungs Some Love

The average person breathes in and out 22,000 per day. Twenty-two thousand times each day, your lungs complete a critical, life-sustaining function, and most of the time, it happens without you even noticing it. For this and so many reasons, every August 1, we celebrate World Lung Cancer Day. It is a time to reflect on the vital role of our lungs and commit to making the kind of lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of lung cancer, an often preventable form of cancer. So this year, take a deep breath and give thanks for your ability to do so. If you are one of the millions of people struggling to quit smoking, talk to your doctor or contact the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Smoking Cessation program at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

The Truth About Lung Cancer

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that 38.5 percent of people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and contributes to the most cancer deaths. Fortunately, it is also among the most preventable.

Types of Lung Cancer

There are two primary forms of lung cancer:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This type of lung cancer represents 80 to 85 percent of lung cancers. NSCLC represents three subtypes of lung cancer with similar outlooks and treatment options. The subtypes include adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
    • This form of lung cancer forms in the cells that would normally secrete mucus and other substances. It occurs mainly in current or former smokers. Fortunately, it is also most likely to be identified before it spreads to other parts of the body.
    • Squamous cell carcinoma. This subtype is often linked to a history of smoking and typically forms in the central part of the lungs.
    • Large cell carcinoma. This subtype can appear in any part of the lungs and can grow and spread rapidly.
  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC). This type of lung cancer tends to grow and spread quicker than NSCLC. Unfortunately, in 70 percent of SCLC cases, the cancer will already have spread before a diagnosis is made.

Causes of Lung Cancer

The most significant risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. The length and frequency with which a person smokes can increase the risk of developing lung cancer. In addition, individuals who have never smoked but have been exposed to regular second-hand smoke or other toxins can be at risk of lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Most lung cancer symptoms are respiratory. The most common indicators include:

  • The development of a persistent cough
  • Coughing up small amounts of blood
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

How to Find Smoking Cessation Support

The most critical step that you can take to reduce your chance of developing lung cancer is to quit smoking or help those around you quit if you are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. If you need to quit smoking but have struggled to quit in the past, talk to your doctor. They will be your greatest advocate and help identify the most effective treatment plan depending on your symptoms, history, other health complications, and lifestyle factors. If you’ve been waiting for a powerful impetus to take the first step toward a smoke-free lifestyle, look no further than World Lung Cancer Day. In honor of the 154,050 Americans who will lose their lives this year due to lung cancer, commit to getting help today.