Dizziness is a disorder of the balance system, and refers to a feeling of disequilibrium or unsteadiness characterized by lightheadedness or a feeling that the room is spinning.
Most Balance Disorders Originate in the Inner Ear
One of the functions of the inner ear is to maintain balance. It contains the vestibular system, which transmits balance information to the brain based on the position and movement of the head in relation to gravity. Faulty signals cause the brain to make unnecessary adjustments, and lead to dizziness or vertigo.
Occasional dizziness isn’t too unusual. Most individuals experience this from time to time, such as when they get up too quickly from a sitting position. If dizziness occurs repeatedly, it usually indicates a vestibular system disorder that may be caused by a cardiovascular, neurological, metabolic, psychological, or visual problem. Chronic cases of dizziness should be evaluated by an ENT specialist to rule out a serious medical issue.
Primary Symptoms of Dizziness
The symptoms of dizziness can range from a floating sensation common with lightheadedness, to the feeling that the environment is moving or spinning often experienced with vertigo. You may feel faint, have difficulty maintaining balance, become disoriented, suffer from blurry vision or sensitivity to light, and have memory loss, concentration difficulties, fatigue, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, headaches, slurred speech, depression, hearing loss and tinnitus.
Diagnosing the cause of your dizziness involves a thorough physical examination and evaluation of your inner ear. You may be given diagnostic tests such as electronystagmography, rotation tests, CT scan or MRI, blood tests and hearing tests.
The type of treatment you are prescribed will depend on the cause of your dizziness, which might vary from ear infection or anemia to a neurological disorder, acoustic neuroma, calcium crystals in the ear, or Meniere’s disease. Treatment may include vestibular rehabilitation therapy, repositioning maneuvers, changes to diet or medication, or surgery.