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Dizziness (Vertigo)

vertigoDizziness is a general term used to describe feeling weak, lightheaded, or on the verge of fainting. You may feel off balance, as if your environment is spinning or moving. While the sensation can cause anxiety, know that you are not alone: dizziness is one of the most common reasons adults see their doctors.

Lightheadedness and Vertigo

Dizziness can involve different sensations. Vertigo occurs when you feel that your surroundings are in motion, and is typically described as a feeling that the room is spinning. Lightheadedness is feeling as if you are going to faint.

There are a number of factors that can cause dizziness. They usually interfere with your balance and sensory systems, sending false signals to the brain, and may affect your inner ear, eyes, or sensory nerves.

Changes in the vestibular structures of your inner ear (your body’s balancing system) are usually responsible for vertigo. Your brain senses movement when none is occurring, leading to feelings of dizziness. The most common cause is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, which occurs when calcium crystals in the ear canal disrupt your equilibrium. Other causes include Meniere’s disease (excessive fluid in the inner ear), vestibular neuronitis (inflammation in the inner ear), acoustic neuroma (a benign growth on the vestibular nerve), vestibular migraine, or in rare cases, a neurological disorder such as a stroke or brain hemorrhage.

Lightheadedness, often accompanied by nausea, occurs when there is a sudden drop in blood pressure or blood sugar, and can be related to a number of problems including abnormalities of the inner ear, inadequate blood flow from the heart, vision loss, muscle weakness, osteoarthritis, neurological conditions, and reactions to certain medications. Feeling as if you’re going to faint isn’t always related to a serious problem. Colds, allergies, influenza, dehydration, and stress can all cause temporary episodes of lightheadedness.

Treating Dizziness

Treatment for dizziness entails figuring out the root cause and mounting an appropriate regimen. Physical and occupational therapy, lifestyle alterations, medications, vestibular rehabilitation, and surgery are some of the possible avenues to explore.

If you have persistent or recurring dizziness or vertigo, please call our office and schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified ENT Specialists.

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