What Causes Dizziness and Can it be Treated?
- Posted on: Aug 23 2023
What is Dizziness?
The term dizziness is used to describe a wide range of sensations including a spinning or rotational feeling, feeling lightheaded, off balance, or nauseous. Because the symptoms of dizziness can be vague and vary from person to person, taking a thorough history and diagnostic testing is often necessary to pinpoint the cause.
ENT Causes of Dizziness:
At our clinic, we diagnose and treat dizziness related to the ear.
Inner Ear causes of dizziness include:
What is Labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis refers to the inflammation of the balance organ in the inner ear. Because input from each inner ear organ creates a sense of balance, a reduction in the function of the organ on either side can produce a dizziness or vertigo complaint. A hearing test as well as a specialized test called a VNG is used to diagnose labyrinthitis and identify which ear has been injured.
Treatment for Labyrinthitis:
Inflammation that results in labyrinthitis is often caused by viral infections or nasal and sinus issues. Because inflammation of the balance organ results in vertigo, oral steroids are often prescribed. In addition, a steroid injection to the ear called a trans-tympanic dexamethasone injection (TTDI), is performed to reverse inflammation in the ear. This is done as an office procedure under local anesthesia and is painless. Any sinus or nasal issues that have been identified are also treated to help resolve the issue and reduce the risk of recurrence. Medications designed to treat vertigo such as Dramamine® will only mask symptoms and will not treat the root cause of labyrinthitis.
What is BPPV (benign paroxysmal position vertigo)?
Dizziness caused by BPPV is typically brief, lasting only seconds to minutes, and is often precipitated by specific changes to your head position (for example occurring every time you turn your head to the right). BPPV occurs when tiny crystals inside the inner ear called otoliths break free. With position changes these crystals float around the fluid inside the balance organ and stimulate vertigo. BPPV can be diagnosed using specialized positioning maneuvers in the office.
Treatment for BPPV:
Treatment for BPPV involves specific exercises to reposition the crystals inside the inner ear. Once in the correct position, the crystals will no longer produce symptoms of dizziness.
Tumors in the inner ear:
What are Tumors in the inner ear?
Tumors in the inner ear are known as acoustic neuromas or vestibular schwannomas. These are non-cancerous and typically slow-growing tumors located on the balance and hearing nerves within the inner ear. These tumors can produce vertigo, ringing in the ear, and hearing loss. Hearing and balance testing as well as imaging of the brain and inner ear with an MRI is used to diagnose these types of tumors.
Treatment for Tumors in The Inner Ear:
Treatment can depend on the size of the tumor, how fast it is growing, and whether or not it is producing any symptoms. Sometimes observation is recommended if the tumor is small and not causing any symptoms. Surgery and/or radiation may be recommended depending on your individual situation.
Non-ENT Causes for Dizziness:
Symptoms of dizziness can be vague and indicate problems in other parts of the body, not just the ear.
Common Non-ENT causes of dizziness include:
- Low blood sugar, anxiety, and stress
- Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, concussion, seizures or brain tumors
- Cardiac issues such as anemia, irregular heartbeats, and low blood pressure
Request a Consultation
If we suspect that your dizziness is not related to the ear, referral to the appropriate specialty can help determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
Posted in: Dizziness