March 3, 2016
Because we specialize in disorders of hearing, balance and dizziness, we see many patients with a variety of symptoms. Many have difficulty hearing, some are bothered by noises in their ears (tinnitus), some suffer disruptive dizziness, and some report poor balance. Earlier blog articles have explored the ways in which hearing, tinnitus, vertigo and imbalance can be related. This month we examine various causes of dizziness.
“Dizziness” is an inexact term many people use to describe sensations which make them feel unstable, typically in the head. Dizziness may include light-headedness or “wooziness”, with a general dulling of the senses, often for brief spells. This is commonly a feature of orthostatic hypotension (momentary low blood pressure in the head following a change in position), circulatory disorders, side effects of prescriptions or interactions of several drugs.
“Vertigo” more precisely describes an illusion of motion in the head or body. Vertigo is common in disorders of the inner ear balance organs. Positional vertigo (BPPV) is very common. This involves incorrect placement of calcium crystals in the ear. The ear responds inappropriately to head movements when these “ear stones” interfere with normal fluid movement in the semicircular canals. This condition is very treatable and requires no medications or surgery.
The central nervous system (brain, brainstem, cerebellum and other nerve structures) can also produce dizziness and/or imbalance. Certain “red flags” in our VNG test battery can often be uncovered for further investigation. Migraine disorder is also known to often produce vertigo, even if headaches are minimal.
Thyroid and diabetes conditions can also cause similar issues. Needless to say, a complaint of dizziness does not guarantee any specific diagnosis. Our diagnostics take into account history, symptoms, medications, other medical conditions, and our extensive test battery. Only when we discover the root cause(s) of the problem can we recommend the best treatment. As always, we seek to keep you on a clear path to good hearing and ear health.