Vertigo, dizziness and balance are all closely related. Many cases of vertigo originate in the labyrinth of the inner ear, where the vestibular system – responsible for detecting motion – is located. Faulty signals in this region cause the body to detect movement when none is occurring, and to make incorrect adjustments that lead to unsteadiness. These symptoms are usually short-lived, but they pose problems to older adults, who are prone to falling. This can result in a serious injury such as a fractured hip, and may even lead to death. All cases of dizziness should be taken seriously.
Why Do I Feel Dizzy?
The labyrinth, a maze-like structure in the inner ear, is made up of the cochlea, semicircular canals and vestibule. These all work together to coordinate the position and movement of the head as it relates to gravity, allowing us to maintain proper balance. When something in the vestibular system goes awry, the brain receives incorrect information and over- or undercompensates. This causes dizziness and vertigo. People often confuse the two, but they each have their own distinct sets of symptoms.
Dizziness causes the sensation of lightheadedness; you may also feel faint and unsteady on your feet. Nausea, confusion, disorientation and the sensation that you are floating are common. This occurs when your blood pressure drops quickly, such as when you rise to your feet from a sitting position too quickly. Conditions that cause dizziness include ear infections, anemia, neurological disorders, inner ear abnormalities and more.
Vertigo sufferers experience the sensation of movement in their surrounding environment, despite the absence of actual motion. In addition to unsteadiness, symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, double vision, fullness in the ear and hearing loss. The leading cause of vertigo is BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, a condition in which calcium crystals in the inner ear break loose and float around, sending false positional signals to the brain). Other causes include inflammation of the inner ear, acoustic neuroma, Meniere’s disease, migraine associated vertigo and more.
Getting Dizziness Under Control
In order to successfully treat dizziness, vertigo and balance disorders, it’s important to find the underlying cause. Diagnostic testing is often necessary for a proper diagnosis. Treatment options include medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy, surgery, and vestibular rehabilitation.
If you or a loved one is experiencing dizziness or balance problems, please call our office to set up an appointment. We look forward to serving you.