Dizzines and Balance Disorders

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Dizzines and Balance Disorders

Up to 20% of people will suffer from some degree of dizziness over a given year. This can range from mild disequilibrium to incapacitating vertigo. Along with a wide range of severity, dizziness has an even wider range of causes.

Southwest Idaho Ear, Nose, and Throat’s providers understand the causes and treatment options for inner ear-related dizziness. We can determine the etiology and to craft a treatment plan.

What is Dizziness?

Generally, dizziness has three symptoms:

Vertigo

Imbalance

Lightheadedness

While vertigo and imbalance often arise from inner-ear disorders, lightheadedness does not. People who feel lightheaded should consult their primary physician.

Testing for Dizziness

Testing for dizziness includes an ear evaluation as well as an evaluation of eye movements and head thrusts. A focal neurologic exam is also beneficial. Audiometric (hearing) testing plays a vital role in evaluations as well. Sometimes, a CT scan or videonystagography (VNG) may be necessary to uncover balance disorders. Some patients may be referred out for an MRI or for physical rehabilitation.

Common Inner Ear Balance Disorders

Benign Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV generally has no identifiable cause but can be connnected to head trauma. Patients suffering from this disorder experience brief episodes of vertigo lasting seconds to minutes. These occur most commonly when they roll over in bed or tilt their heads backwards.

If BPPV doesn’t resolve, repositioning maneuvers such as the Epley or the Semont Maneuver can treat it easily. In most cases, dislodged crystals in one of the inner ear balance canals cause the disorder. These maneuvers drop dislodged crystals-the main cause of BPPV-out of the inner balance canal, thereby curing the disease. Repositioning has a success rate of over 90%.

Endolymphatic Hydrops (Meniere’s disease)

Meniere’s disease results from fluctuating fluid pressure in the inner ear. This can be heritable in nature or can occur spontaneously. Patients with this disease generally experience:

  • Episodes of aural pressure
  • Roaring tinnitus
  • Fluctuating hearing loss
  • Vertigo lasting for hours

Treatment focuses on stabilizing inner ear fluid pressure. First-line therapy includes dietary modifications (low-salt, caffeine-free diets) and diuretics. Other medications can help as well. If first-line therapy is not sufficient, inner ear medication perfusions or surgical intervention may prove effective.

Viral Labyrinthitis

Caused by a viral inner ear infection, people with viral labyrinthitis suffer continuous, intense vertigo. The disorder can be associated with hearing loss. Steroid therapy can decrease the severity and duration of the symptoms.

Other Causes

Other causes for dizziness include:

  • Migraine associated vertigo
  • Anxiety
  • Acoustic or other brain tumors
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Otitis media
  • Multisensory imbalance.

At Southwest Idaho ENT, we have the understanding and resources to evaluate and treat these diseases effectively.

Contact SWIENT for more information on treating dizziness and balance disorders.