Facts about Dizziness & Vertigo

Have you ever found yourself asking “Why am I dizzy?” Maybe you’ve experienced problems with your balance. You might be surprised to learn that occasional dizziness is actually very common in adults. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 4 in 10 people visit a doctor about symptoms of dizziness.

Vertigo, related to dizziness but more serious, makes you feel as though the room is spinning while you’re standing still. Like dizziness, this is likely to be more common than you realize. According to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, almost 40% of adults over the age of 40 are affected by vertigo at least once in their lifetime.

The main difference between dizziness and vertigo are the symptoms. Vertigo can cause nausea and vomiting, and could be indicative of a serious balance disorder. Dizziness, or dizzy spells, will leave you feeling momentarily unbalanced. Dizziness may cause the sufferer to be debilitated, or it may simply be more of an annoyance.

With this in mind, we’re taking a closer look at the balance disorders that can cause dizziness or vertigo.

Common Balance Disorders

Balance disorders can be caused by a number of things, such as low blood pressure, a head injury, an ear infection, medication, arthritis and more. Here are some of the common causes for a balance disorder: 

  • Age – Age related balance disorders could be a combination of deteriorating eyesight, loss of muscle tone, or the aging of the vestibular system of the inner ear. Treatment for age related balance disorders is often vestibular rehab.
  • BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) – “One of the most surprising causes of dizziness is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV,” says Gregory Whitman, MD, an ear and brain specialist with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center at Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital in Massachusetts. BPPV can cause severe, but short lasting, episodes of a spinning sensation. This is the result of a problem in the inner ear, which contains calcium and otoconia, which are protein-based sensing crystals. If the crystals are dislodged and float into your inner ear canal, it may cause a spinning sensation. The Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA) estimates that 1 out of 1,000 people per year are affected by BPPV, although it is most common in older adults. Treatment for BPPV may include Canalith repositioning procedure or physical therapy.
  • Migraine related vertigo – Migraines can cause balance disorders before, during or after onset. Treating migraine related vertigo often includes medication, or in some cases, adaptations to your diet.
  • Meniere’s disease – Balance symptoms related to Meniere’s disease may be caused by excessive pressure in the inner ear. Symptoms of Meniere’s disease include vertigo, ear fullness, tinnitus, and hearing loss. Various treatments are available, but there is no cure.
  • Vestibular neuronitis – This is the result of an infection. The infection causes inflammation of the inner ear, as well as the nerves that send signals to the brain. This affects the information transmitted to the brain, resulting in dizziness and vertigo.
  • Labyrinthitis – Labyrinthitis is a disorder of your inner ear. Inside your inner ear are two vestibular nerves that serve to send your brain information about balance control and spatial navigation. If one of these nerves becomes inflamed, often the result of an infection or virus, symptoms of dizziness, nausea and vertigo can ensue. Treatment is usually in the form of medication.

If you experience imbalance, dizziness, vertigo and associated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, we recommend that you speak to your general health practitioner. They may decide to refer you to an ENT for further treatment.

Trust Your Hearing to the Experts

If your balance problems coincide with a change in your hearing, please book an appointment with the team at Hearing Aid Specialists of CT. Contact us today to request your appointment. We are here to take care of all your listening needs.

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