Is Vertigo Genetic?

According to WebMD, vertigo is the feeling of losing balance. When a person has vertigo, they might feel like the world is spinning or swaying. The word vertigo is often used under the umbrella term "dizziness," writes Healthline. The source also notes that the causes of dizziness can be vestibular, neurological, or psychiatric. Although dizziness attacks associated with vertigo can be harmless, if accompanied by chest pain and headache, they can also indicate a life-threatening illness that requires immediate medical attention (via Mayo Clinic). A specialist, such as a neurologist or an ear, nose, or throat doctor, should clarify sudden, frequent, or persistent dizzy spells.

Medical News Today notes that various conditions can lead to vertigo, and the symptoms involve physical reactions such as nausea, vomiting, pulling in one direction, and sweating, per WebMD. As for whether vertigo is genetic, various factors play a role in the emergence of the condition, and although minor, genetics might be one of them.

Main causes of vertigo

Medical News Today notes that vertigo isn't necessarily hereditary but could be a symptom brought on by various genetic conditions. A 2021 study published in the journal Communications Biology identified six gene variants that can influence inner ear development and maintenance and also have a role in the biology of the inner ear.

WebMD notes that there are different types of vertigo. In many cases, the causes of vertigo involve an ear imbalance brought on by an infection and can manifest in several ways. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), for example, is a common form, which indicates a problem with the inner ear. In this condition, calcium crystals called otoconia to detach and flow freely in the fluid-filled sacs found in various parts of the inner ear, including the semicircular canals (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). Vestibular neuronitis is a more severe form of vertigo that brings on dizziness that lasts for two to three weeks, according to WebMD. 

Some other notable causes listed by Medical News Today include labyrinthitis (ear labyrinth inflammation), vestibular neuritis (vestibular nerve inflammation), cholesteatoma (benign growth in the middle ear), and Ménière's disease (changes in the fluid in tubes of the inner ear). A neurological disorder, or a problem with the central nervous system, is another common underlying cause of many dizziness symptoms. Lastly, certain psychological factors brought on by stress and anxiety also play a role in chronic vertigo symptoms (per Healthline).

Vertigo diagnosis and treatment

According to Medical News Today, vertigo often resolves independently, but you might need treatment for the underlying cause. For proper diagnoses and treatment, it's important to consult with your doctor or a neurologist. If an infection in the inner ear is the main cause of vertigo, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics. Other medications like meclizine (an antihistamine), might help relieve nausea and motion sickness.

Surgical treatment is very rarely necessary. However, for vertigo caused by BPPV, surgery might be needed to block the semicircular canals, preventing calcium crystals from entering (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). The source also notes that surgery carries some risks, which include hearing loss.

As psychological conditions like anxiety also cause forms of dizziness, according to Healthline, cognitive behavioral therapy might come in handy as a treatment. Medical News Today also notes that certain anxiety medications like lorazepam are sometimes prescribed for vertigo.