Vertigo episodes may come and go and cause sudden, severe episodes of disorientation. They can also be incredibly mild, or be chronic and last for longer periods of time.
There are other conditions and injuries that may cause episodes of vertigo. The length of your vertigo episode will depend on what that underlying cause is.
The most common causes like BPPV and migraines last for a maximum of two days, with an average of a few hours. Vertigo can be very difficult to deal with, so consider medical help if you can’t handle it on your own.
Factors that affect how long vertigo lasts
These conditions could include a change in blood flow, a head injury, a viral infection, rapid head movement, a vestibular migraine or something more serious. But how long does vertigo last? Well, the answer depends on how you get it.
Vertigo caused by inflammation or an infection in the inner ear may remain until the inflammation subsides.
BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo)
BPPV is one of the most common causes of vertigo. The average episode reoccurs but usually lasts for one minute or less.
Benign Paraoxysmal Positional Vertigo BPPV (or Benign Positional Vertigo) is the single most common cause of vertigo in adults and children alike. If you have BPPV, it was caused by head trauma, inner ear infections, or other conditions. You don’t show any auditory symptoms of this condition, which means that you won’t get a warning like ringing in your ears when it sets in. BPPV is almost always caused by damage to your inner ear (also called peripheral vertigo because it affects your peripherals).
How long does it last? The typical attack of BPPV can last for a few seconds to a minute. These spells are severe and debilitating.
VESTIBULAR VERTIGO FROM MIGRAINES
If you live in North America, you probably know how common migraines are. These severe headaches can put you in bed for a week or more at times. Today, migraines are one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the US and Canada, second to high blood pressure problems. Migraines are commonly accompanied by attacks of severe vertigo. This dizziness and nausea, when paired with the pain of an actual migraine, can be extremely hard to deal with. This affects the central nervous system, not the peripherals, meaning it is a little harder to treat.
How long does it last? Migraines last for hours. Their symptoms persist throughout the attack. Since vertigo is one of these symptoms, it can also go on for a few hours. Take as much bedrest as possible during a migraine.
STROKE OR HEAD INJURY
Meniere’s Disease is one of the more common causes of vertigo in people. It is a peripheral form of vertigo caused by a disorder in the inner ear. It is a degenerative disease, impacting the tissues in your ears. Over time, if left untreated, this disease can lead to permanent loss of hearing. It doesn’t affect children and elders but can be very common in people in their 30s. This disease is usually accompanied by tinnitus and can be a blight on your life in the future if you don’t get medical help.
How long does it last? Typical vertigo attacks brought on by Meniere’s Disease can last for a few hours. The spells of dizziness aren’t too severe, but can still put you out of commission for a while.
CONCUSSIONS DAMAGING THE LABYRINTH
While the Labyrinth sounds like it is straight out of a fantasy movie, it is actually a part of your ear. This maze of nerves, receptors, and passages in your inner ear helps you keep your balance. Damage to it is most commonly caused by severe blunt force trauma and head injury. When the labyrinth is damaged, it can lead to extreme vertigo, fainting, and a loss of hearing. Tinnitus is also a common symptom in situations like this.
How long does it last? The good thing about a labyrinth is that it heals. While this can take time, the concussion induces vertigo that will last for a few days to a week at worst. The dizziness comes and goes frequently during this time. If it lasts for longer than a week, you should see a doctor.
TIA: TRANSIENT ISCHEMIC ATTACK
Often called a mini-stroke, a TIA is a serious medical condition. It has all the symptoms of a stroke, including acute vertigo. There is no permanent damage caused to your tissues in this event. However, it is highly recommended that you visit a doctor immediately if you experience an attack like this. It can be the precursor to an actual stroke. It is a rather rare condition, of course, and can cause either peripheral or central vertigo when it does occur.
How long does it last? The typical TIA can last for a few seconds to a few hours. The dizziness and loss of balance caused due to the vertigo effect can last for the same amount of time. This dizziness can be paralyzing while it lasts.
OTOTOXICITY AND THE EAR
Ototoxicity is a condition where the ear is damaged semi-permanently due to drug abuse. It is also called inner ear poisoning. This is a very uncommon disorder that doesn’t affect many healthy adults leading normal lifestyles. When it does happen, it is severe.
How long does it last? Vertigo induced by ear damage due to ototoxicity can last for months. You will suffer from spells that last for days, followed by a period of rest and then even more vertigo.
A perilymph fistula is a medical term given to an access point between your middle ear and inner ear where there isn’t supposed to be one. These fistulae can be the cause of acute imbalances in your ear pressure. The causes of a fistula include coughing and sneezing too hard (in rare cases). You can also get one from excessive heavy lifting and straining. The most common causes are birth defects and severe trauma to the head or ear. Fistulae also show themselves when you ascend or descend altitudes too fast, such as when you don’t ascend properly and slowly while scuba diving.
How long does it last? This form of peripheral vertigo only lasts for a few seconds. Attacks are frequent and can be severe. You get a warning before an attack in the form of tinnitus (ringing in your ears).