Common Descriptions of Dizziness
Some people describe a balance problem by saying they feel dizzy, lightheaded, unsteady or giddy. This feeling of imbalance or disequilibrium is sometimes due to an inner ear problem.
A few people describe their balance problem by using the word vertigo. They often say that they or their surroundings are turning or spinning. Vertigo is frequently due to an inner ear problem.
Causes of Dizziness
- Dizziness can be caused by circulation problems. If your brain does not get enough blood flow, you feel lightheaded.
- If the inner ear fails to receive enough blood flow, a more specific type of dizziness occurs- Vertigo.
- Injury can also cause dizziness. A skull fracture that damages the inner ear produces a profound and incapacitating vertigo with nausea and hearing loss. The dizziness will last for several weeks then slowly improve as the normal side takes over.
- Infections such as viruses or bacterial infections can attack the inner ear and its nerve connections to the brain.
- Allergies can also cause dizziness when people are exposed to foods or airborne particles to which they are allergic.
Evaluation of Dizziness
Not every patient will require every test. The physician’s judgment will be based on each particular patient. Similarly, the treatments recommended by your physician will depend on the diagnosis.
Your doctor will ask you to describe your dizziness, whether it is light-headedness or a sensation of motion, how long a dizzy episode lasts and how often the dizziness has troubled you.
Your physician will examine your ear, nose and throat and do tests of nerve and balance function. There may be tests performed to further evaluate nerve and balance function.
You can reduce dizziness by:
- Avoiding rapid changes in position
- Avoiding extremes of head motion
- Minimizing your exposure to circumstances that precipitate your dizziness
- Avoiding hazardous activities