Top Causes of Vertigo in the Workplace (and what to do about it)

You're in the middle of your work when suddenly you feel everything is spinning. You're too dizzy that you can't continue your work. For some minutes, you're just holding your head and keeping your eyes closed. With such symptoms, you might be already experiencing vertigo in the workplace.

What Is Vertigo?

Before we delve deeper into what vertigo is, it is essential to clarify that vertigo is not a disease. It is actually a symptom of an underlying health condition. This can happen to anyone but is more common to those people who are 65 years old and above.

According to Medical News Today:

"Vertigo is a sensation of spinning dizziness, as though the room or surrounding environment is spinning in circles around the person. Many people use the term to describe a fear of heights, but this is not correct. Vertigo can happen when a person looks down from a great height, but it usually refers to any temporary or ongoing spells of dizziness that occur due to problems in the inner ear or brain."

Vertigo occurs when there is an issue with the brain, inner ear, or a sensory nerve pathway. It is also characterized by the feeling of vertical or horizontal spinning.

Symptoms of Vertigo

Vertigo attacks can affect a worker's performance at work; its symptoms can be short or may last for several days. The most notable symptoms include:

- Dizziness

- Feeling that everything around is moving or spinning

- Loss of balance

- Feeling sick

- Lightheadedness

- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ear

- Nausea

- Vomiting

- Feeling of fullness in the ear

- Headaches

- Uncontrollable movement of the eyes, also known as nystagmus

When you start experiencing some of these symptoms, make sure to take a rest, and take some medications.

Common Causes of Vertigo in the Workplace

Various factors can occur with vertigo, such as:

- Head injury

- Migraine headaches

- Ear surgery

- Growth problem of the bone of the middle ear

- Multiple sclerosis

- Benign growth on the nerve near the inner ear

- Brain stem disease

- Syphilis

- Muscle weakness

- Stroke

But, what really causes vertigo? Aside from the problem in the middle ear, the following are some conditions that may lead to vertigo:

- History of migraines

- Ear infection and upper tract infection

- Trauma in the head

- Cardiovascular risks

- Some types of drugs or medications

- Severe intoxication with alcohol

According to Medical News Today, there are medical conditions that can cause vertigo, including Labyrinthitis, Vestibular neuritis, Cholesteatoma, and Ménière's disease. To find more details about each condition, click here.

Vertigo in the Workplace: What Causes It?

The working area where you spend most of your time working can also contribute to experiencing dizziness and vertigo. There can be something that may be causing you to experience vertigo at work, such as:

#1 Being too close to your computer monitor screen

#2 Poor lighting in the workstation

#3 Frequent switching between screens of computers and mobile phones

#4 Flickering light, which can be too dark or too light

#5 Staring at various computer screens

#6 Focusing on computer screens for long hours

#7 Poor posture that may force you to slouch or bend to be closer to the screen

#8 Too much caffeine intake


Tips on How to Prevent or Manage Vertigo in the Workplace

Since the causes of vertigo in the workplace are mostly related to computer use and workstation set up, these are the areas where companies should give attention.

#1 Make sure to adjust the lighting in the working area

The kind of office lighting you use can contribute to having eye strain, headaches, dizziness, and vertigo. That is why if you're still using fluorescent lighting, you should start changing it. Instead, use a table or desk lamp that can provide better lighting. An example is AnthroDesk's LED desk lamp.

Avoid working in a dark room or space while staring at a bright screen of the computer. Such a setup can also cause headaches and vertigo. In case you've been experiencing light sensitivity too often, you should consult a doctor because it may signal an underlying health concern.

#2 Apply proper ergonomics in the workplace

Companies must implement ergonomic evaluations of their offices. This will help in checking if the right equipment and accessories are present in the workstation. All the items inside the workplace should be properly set up and organized so that you can avoid eye strain, muscle strain, and musculoskeletal injuries.

Dizziness can also be caused by muscle tightness and poor posture. This is why it is recommended to use standing desks or desk converters. It will be more comfortable to work using this ergonomic equipment by easily shifting from sitting to standing.

Use an ergonomic chair that will support your back, neck, and head. There are times our neck and head are in a position that is prone to strains and muscle tightness, leading to pain, dizziness, and headaches.

#3 Apply proper computer ergonomics.

It is crucial to learn how to position your computer screen. Too far or too near a computer monitor can both be detrimental for you. For more details, you can read our published article "Are You Applying Computer Ergonomics at Work?". It will give you details on properly setting up your computer monitors for a better working experience.

#4 Breathe properly

When you're overwhelmed with challenging tasks and deadlines, you should learn how to take breaks and breathe mindfully. This will help you feel calm and relaxed. When you feel that your head and neck are feeling tired and stiff, you should relax and breathe deeply. To relieve headaches and dizziness, take four seconds to inhale and another four seconds to exhale.

#5 Have a regular check-up with your physician.

Since vertigo is a symptom of another health condition, you should be aware of what causes it and how you can prevent having it. Consult your physician regularly.


Final Thoughts

Vertigo is a common medical complaint by employees due to several factors in the workplace. The symptoms of vertigo can have a negative impact on work performance and overall health. This is why everyone should be aware of vertigo's causes in the workplace and how these can be prevented.