Dizziness & Balance
It’s essential to get a diagnosis so you treat the proper cause.
Hearing loss is not the only issue involving the ears.
Have you ever felt like you were spinning when you were standing still? Hearing loss is not the only issue involving the ears.
The ears are the center of our vestibular system, responsible for your ability to balance. This sophisticated system coordinates your vision with other sensory information to coordinate your movements with your spatial orientation so you don’t lose your balance every time you turn your head or change position.
There are any number of causes that lead to problems with balance or dizziness, including:
It’s essential to get a diagnosis so you treat the proper cause. You can count on Baker ENT to provide an assessment that will pinpoint the cause of your dizziness or balance problem. We use videonystagmography (VNG), an FDA-approved diagnostic tool, to determine whether you have an inner ear disease. This test will even determine whether one or both ears are causing your balance problems.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common cause of vertigo, generally affecting people over 50. Women are affected more than men, but BPPV can be brought on by a head injury to people of any age.
Symptoms range from dizziness, a sensation of spinning, loss of balance, and nausea or vomiting. One telltale sign of BPPV is the rhythmic eye movements that accompany vertigo. These symptoms are brief in endurance, lasting a minute or less, but can recur after some time.
BPPV is usually more bothersome than serious, but dizziness can lead to losing your balance, which can lead to a fall. Fortunately, there are effective treatments to help you cope with BPPV.
Inside your ear, the vestibular labyrinth is comprised of three loop-shaped structures containing fluid and hair-like sensors. These track your head’s rotation. The otolith organs (from oto meaning the ear and lith meaning stone) are crystals that track your head’s position relative to gravity. When these crystals become dislodged, your spatial sense is disrupted, making you feel dizzy and lose your balance.
A simple procedure called “canalith repositioning” can be performed in the office. It involves specific head movements and holding the position for 30 seconds until any eye movements stop. You can be taught the sequence of movements so you can perform this procedure at home as needed. One or two procedures are usually effective in resolving your vertigo.
Like BPPV, you experience episodes of vertigo, but your dizziness lasts 20 minutes or longer. Other symptoms include a feeling of fullness in the ear, temporary hearing loss, and ringing in the ear.
If you have experienced more than two episodes, it’s time to schedule an appointment to get a diagnosis. The symptoms are not unique to Meniere’s, so you need to rule out other illnesses. Meniere’s disease can lead to permanent hearing loss, so don’t ignore this condition when it goes away.
Several tests might be needed to positively diagnose Meniere’s, including:
Hearing tests to determine hearing loss and range.
Videonystagmography (VNG) to evaluate your balance.
Electrocochleography (ECoG) to evaluate fluid in the inner ear.
Video head impulse test (vHIT) to measure your eyes’ response to abrupt movement.
Blood tests or an MRI to rule out other conditions or causes, such as a tumor or multiple sclerosis.
Although there is no cure for Meniere’s disease, some medications can relieve your symptoms, such as motion sickness or anti-nausea medications. Diuretics to reduce your fluid retention and reducing your salt intake can also help. In rare cases, further treatment might be necessary, such as middle ear injections or surgery.
Keeping your balance
If you suffer from dizziness or balance problems, don’t diagnose the cause yourself. Contact Baker ENT to schedule an appointment. We’ll find the cause and set you on the right course of treatment.