Ask the Audiologist

Dizziness

Dizziness is a subjective sensation of a person's disorientation to his environment.

It can be in the form of lightheadedness or faint feeling, staggering or falling, or a feeling of movement or spinning.

The sensation of spinning in any form or variation is called vertigo.

True vertigo is almost always related to ear pathology most commonly due to a disorder of the inner ear, the nerves connecting the ear to the brain, or the part of the brain concerned with balance.

Hearing loss, fullness in the ears and tinnitus (noises in the ears) may or may not be present.

The most common causes of vertigo are:

  • Inflammation or neuritis of the inner ear
  • Disturbance of circulation to the inner ear
  • Fluid buildup in the inner ear
  • Tumors of the inner ear

Vertigo can also be caused by wax buildup in the ear canals and fluid or infection in the middle ear.

How is Dizziness diagnosed?
A complete ear, nose and throat examination is necessary. In addition to an accurate description of the dizziness, it is important to determine if other related symptoms are present such as hearing loss, fullness in the ears or tinnitus (noises in the ears.) The following are useful in assisting to pinpoint the exact cause of the dizziness:

  • Complete hearing evaluation
  • Balance tests
  • imaging of the ear and brain (including CAT or MRI scan)
  • Complete blood tests, medical, neurological and allergy evaluations

How is Dizziness treated?
The treatment of dizziness depends on the cause. If the dizziness is related to pathology of the ear and related structures, treatment may consist of the following:

  • Antivertigo medication
  • Removal of wax from the ears
  • Antibiotics and decongestants when necessary
  • Vasodilators to stimulate circulation of the inner ear
  • Medication to reduce inner ear fluid buildup
  • Surgical removal of chronic middle ear disease or tumors of the inner ear