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The Link Between Alcohol Consumption and Vertigo

The Link Between Alcohol Consumption and Vertigo

Alcohol consumption can damage the inner ear and specific brain areas, leading to vertigo.

It is a well-known fact that alcohol consumption can produce many harmful effects on the human body. Alcohol can impair the auditory cortex (part of the brain), hearing, and balance, resulting in vertigo.  However, vertigo is commonly associated with short-term and intermittent alcohol consumption rather than long-term use because long-term consumption can increase your alcohol tolerance. 

In addition, alcohol withdrawal can also lead to vertigo and loss of balance. Keeping in view these correlations, it is recommended to avoid alcohol if you have vertigo or have previously been diagnosed with vertigo. Fortunately, Confidant Health provides Medication-Assisted treatment (MAT) for alcohol use to prevent alcohol-induced effects on the body.

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a subtype of dizziness that presents the feeling that you, or the environment around you, are spinning. Common causes of vertigo include BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), vestibular neuritis, Ménière's syndrome,head injury, medications, and alcohol consumption.

Vertigo Symptoms

Although vertigo itself is considered a symptom (rather than a disease), it can occur in combination with other symptoms. Some of the common symptoms include,

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tinnitus (Ringing sounds in ears)
  • Aural fullness
  • Nystagmus (Uncontrolled horizontal movement of eyes)

Common Causes of Vertigo

Common causes of vertigo include the following,

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Vestibular neuritis (viral infection and inflammation of the vestibular nerve)
  • Meniere’s disease (accumulation of excessive fluids in the inner ear)
  • Alcohol-related vertigo
  • Drug-induced vertigo
  • Migraine
  • Stroke or Head injury.
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How Alcohol Triggers Vertigo

After getting absorbed into the body, alcohol diffuses into the brain, ear, liver, and other organs. The human brain has certain signaling pathways that keep the body balanced in its position. When alcohol gets into the brain tissues, it impairs these signaling pathways, resulting in vertigo.

Furthermore, alcohol triggers the release of special chemicals (histamines and cytokines) in the body. These substances can cause inflammation in the inner ear, leading to vertigo.

Mild Symptoms of Alcohol-Related Vertigo

Mild-to-moderate symptoms of vertigo include false feelings of spinning of the surroundings, nausea, vomiting, nystagmus, spontaneous tilting of the head, unbalanced body, and uncontrolled pulling of the body to one side.  

Severe Symptoms of Alcohol-Related Vertigo

In severe cases, alcohol-related vertigo can have recurrent vomiting, ringing sounds in the ear (tinnitus), nystagmus (uncontrolled eye movements), and severe headache.

Effects of alcohol on the Inner Ear

The inner part of the human ear consists of tiny hair-like projections and fluids around these projections. Together, these structures sense the change in the body’s position and send signals to the brain. Next, the brainstem (inner part of the brain) senses these signals and makes the body balanced.Alcohol can produce harmful effects on the inner ear through two main pathways. First, alcohol can change the composition and volume of fluid in the inner ear. Second, it can directly affect the hair-like projections located in the inner ear. Consequently, the inner ear’s balancing mechanism gets damaged, and symptoms of vertigo start to appear. 

Furthermore, these hair-like projections also have an essential role in hearing. That’s why alcohol can negatively impact the normal hearing of the inner ear.

Effects of alcohol on the Brain

The human brain has a particular area (auditory cortex) that translates the signals received from the ear into meaningful form. Alcohol can negatively impact different areas of the brain, including the auditory cortex.

When alcohol damages the auditory cortex, it can be hard for the brain to translate the signals properly and maintain a good balance. As a result, hearing and balancing problems can develop.

How to treat alcohol-related vertigo?

Usually, alcohol-related vertigo resolves when the alcohol gets removed from the body. Following home remedies and self-help tips can help manage the symptoms of vertigo.

  • Use Ginger, Turmeric, and Ginkgo Biloba virtues
  • Lemon balm is a nerve stimulant and can help improve vertigo.
  • Drink plenty of water and soda drinks.
  • Avoid salt, caffeine, and high-fat foods.
  • Head massage and the use of a slightly raised pillow can also be helpful in vertigo.
  • Lie in a quiet and dark room to decrease the spinning feeling.
  • Antihistamines can also be used for moderate-to-severe vertigo. For nausea and vomiting, antiemetics can be effective.

As alcohol is the primary cause of alcohol-induced vertigo, avoid taking more alcohol. However, if you feel it hard to avoid alcohol, Confidant Health’s MAT therapy can help you navigate detoxification and recovery from alcohol use disorder.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does alcohol-induced vertigo last?

In most cases, the symptoms of alcohol-induced vertigo may last up to three-to-seven hours. This period refers to the time needed by the body to remove alcohol from the blood.

However, long-term alcohol use can also permanently damage the inner ear and auditory cortex. In such cases, vertigo can occur for extended periods and may not subside completely.

Can you drink alcohol if you have vertigo?

If you have vertigo or a history of vertigo, you should avoid taking alcohol because alcohol can aggravate your symptoms of vertigo. Moreover, alcohol withdrawal can also precipitate the symptoms of vertigo. 

You should also avoid alcohol if you have other conditions associated with vertigo, such as Meniere’s disease, BPPV, or vestibular neuritis. 

How do you get rid of vertigo after drinking?

The best way to get rid of vertigo after drinking is to remove the alcohol from the body. For this purpose, drink plenty of water, drink soda, and use ginger. In addition, eating something rich in complex carbohydrates (potatoes, carrots, strawberries, or beans) can also help absorb alcohol from your body faster.

Consult online with Confidant Health’s consultant

Confidant Health understands the severe side effects of alcoholism; therefore, it provides Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to overcome alcohol use disorder. MAT offers counseling sessions and medications needed for treating alcoholism. You can consult online with a healthcare professional by downloading Confidant Health’s app.

This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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