Dizziness and vertigo are fairly common medical complaints with 20%–30% of the general population reporting symptoms at some time during their life. Dizziness can affect patients of all ages and can have many different causes. Symptoms of dizziness become more prevalent as patients age and tend to affect women more than men. In fact 2%–3% of emergency room visits are the result of dizziness.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is the feeling of movement while remaining stationary. It is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, instability, or difficulty maintaining balance and falling. Vertiginous attacks can include blurred vision and difficulty speaking. Attacks may be episodic and acute or chronic. True vertigo is often associated with diseases of the ear.
Dizziness is a little vaguer, and can mean true vertigo, lightheadedness, or a balance disorder. Dizziness can also be caused by many things such as BPPV, labyrinthitis, anxiety, middle ear infections, and sinus and allergy problems.
Get a professional diagnosis
Diagnosing the cause of vertigo and dizziness begins with a visit to your primary physician. He or she is most qualified to start the process of ruling out the underlining causes such as diabetes, heart problems or inner ear disorder. The primary physician may refer you to several specialists to narrow down the possible cause. An otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) is likely to be involved as diseases of the ear are ruled out. The audiologist may be asked to perform a hearing test looking for subtle differences between your ears. They will also be the specialist asked to assess the function of the balance portion of the inner ear. The audiologist typically does this with a test called an ENG or VNG (electronystagmography study or videonystagmography study). This test is really a series of smaller tests that access the semicircular canals (the balance portion of the inner ear) and the central balance system. The results can help the physician decide how best to treat the dizziness.
Many treatments available
The good news is that once the underlying cause is identified, there are many treatments for dizziness and vertigo. The treatments may involve manipulations that allow tiny, free-floating crystals in your inner ear be reabsorbed or vestibular rehabilitation to help you adjust to changes in you balance system. Depending on the cause, there may also be surgical or medical treatments available. The key is proper diagnosis.
Our AudigyCertified™ audiologists are well trained providers of vestibular (balance) evaluation and treatment. If you or a loved one is experiencing dizziness, ask your physician if inner ear disorder should be ruled out. As with all of our appointments, you will be guided through our 4-step process. We will review our history, examine your ears, evaluate the inner ear system and review the results and possible treatment options with you. A comprehensive report will then be forwarded on to your physician.
If you are experiencing dizziness or vertigo, ask your physician if an audiological evaluation would be right for you. We look forward to being part of your professional team.