Dizziness is a disturbing problem and occurs very frequently throughout the population, regardless of age, sex, or health status. There are many different types of dizziness, and some of these originate from within the inner ear.
Vertigo is a term specifying dizziness from the inner ear and vestibular system. Other types of imbalance may come from circulatory system disorders, and these may present as lightheadedness rather than a spinning sensation.
The maintenance of balance involves many different subsystems of the nervous system, including the visual system, vestibular system, and proprioception (which involves the ability to sense the environment by touch.)
There are different types of dizziness of vestibular system or inner ear origin. These range from vestibular neuronitis and benign vertigo to Ménière’s disease. A good history and physical exam is often all that’s needed to determine the source of the imbalance. Questions about the nature of the symptoms, the duration of the symptoms, and trigger factors for the sensation of instability are particularly helpful.
Although the cause of dizziness is sometimes diagnosed in a straightforward fashion, sometimes testing is required. This could include a hearing test, specialized balance testing (ENG or VNG) and sometimes imaging such as an MRI with contrast.
Options for treatment may include medication and balance exercises. Vestibular rehabilitation, a form of physical therapy, may be considered to enhance the process of regaining balance. Epley Maneuvers are sometimes very helpful with benign vertigo.
Consultations with physicians from other specialties including neurology, ophthalmology and cardiology may be beneficial.
Aggressive treatment of dizziness is very important, as instability may lead to falls and possible significant injury.
For more information regarding vertigo, please call for a consultation.
Todd A. Schneiderman, MD FACS
215 Union Avenue Suite C
Bridgewater, NJ 08807