Misunderstood and often misdiagnosed, the mystery of vertigo

Gentamicin ototoxicity, or poisoning of the ear, is just one way people end up with chronic vertigo. In the majority of cases, vestibular damage is the result of a virus. Head injury, autoimmune disease and genetic conditions are also culprits. As are some jobs. Vestibular problems are a professional hazard for studio sound engineers, soldiers and military trainees who are exposed to bomb blasts, as well as football and hockey players, including Sidney Crosby, who develop chronic vertigo from vestibular concussions. Unfortunately, says Pothier, "vestibular patients are often not taken seriously. They're repeatedly brushed aside as making up their symptoms. But what they experience is very serious and very real."

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