Dizziness means different things to many people. It can mean feeling light headed, or a spinning sensation, or confusion. It is also a scary condition and people feel they will never get better. It is important that a person experiencing dizziness be seen by a physician.
Vertigo is a spinning sensation often causing some nausea and can be caused by several things. The most common diagnoses that can cause vertigo include:
- Meniere’s disease. This is a disorder of the inner ear causing recurrent bouts of spinning, decreased hearing and tinnitus. This is due to an imbalance of fluid pressure in the inner ear causing rupture of a membrane with the ensuing vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Benign Positional Vertigo. This is the most common type of recurrent vertigo and is caused by “crystals” in the inner ear that normally are in one part of the inner ear and these help us orient ourselves to our environment, but have fallen into the semicircular canals. These then can cause a disorientation with a spinning sensation. There is not a hearing loss with this vertigo.
- Labryrinthitis. An inflammation of the inner ear most often due to a virus. This is typically a “one time” episode that causes severe vertigo that improves over the next few days. Usually there is not a hearing loss.
- Vestibular Migraine. This causes repeated bouts of vertigo but may not have an associated headache however there can be the other symptoms of migraine present; shimmering or flashing lights, sensitivity to light and sounds.
- Other causes include tumors of the brain
Treatment includes an accurate diagnosis as what may be causing the vertigo. This will include a series of positional tests performed in the office. Once a diagnosis is established a treatment regimen can be started which may include repositioning exercises (video references will be provided) oral medication, medication instilled into the middle ear and diet changes.