It’s not unusual to feel a little dizzy if you stand up too quickly or after an intense hike through South Mountain Park. However, if you are dealing with frequent or intense bouts of dizziness or feeling unbalanced, it may be due to a problem with your inner ear.
Vertigo Is Frequently the Result of Inner Ear Problems
Inner ear problems are a leading cause of vertigo. While vertigo and dizziness are often used interchangeably, vertigo is a specific sensation that involves feeling like either you or the space around you is moving or spinning when it’s actually not.
Research shows that dizziness including vertigo affects about 15% to over 20% of adults yearly. There are two types of vertigo, peripheral and central. Peripheral vertigo is caused by problems by the inner ear, while central vertigo is caused by disease or injury to the brain.
Benign Paroxysmal Vertigo
The most common type of peripheral vertigo is known as benign paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV). BPPV involves intense, sporadic episodes of vertigo that are triggered by a change in head position. Additional symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, and often last come and go, lasting under a minute.
While BPPV can disappear on its own, it’s often treated by an ENT or balance specialist who performs a series of head movements like the Epley maneuver to relieve your symptoms.
Meniere’s disease is a problem with the inner ear thought to be caused by excess fluid buildup. In addition to vertigo, people with the condition often experience fullness in the ear, tinnitus and temporary hearing loss (however, some cases of hearing loss can be permanent.) Symptoms usually only affect one ear.
Treatment options for Meniere’s disease include medication, physical therapy, dietary changes, hearing aids, and occasionally, surgery.
Labyrinthitis is an infection of the labyrinth located in the inner ear. It is most often triggered by having a virus like the cold or the flu. However, it can sometimes be caused by bacteria. Symptoms of labyrinthitis include:
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Hearing loss
Though hearing loss from labyrinthitis is usually temporary, if the infection is left untreated, it can become permanent. Treatment options depend on the cause of the infection and usually involve antivirals or antibiotics as well as certain medications to reduce dizziness and swelling while the infection clears.
See a Doctor for Dizziness
Because dizziness has many causes, some of which can be serious, make an appointment with a medical professional if you are experiencing regular symptoms. If your dizziness is accompanied by a severe headache or neck pain, high fever, sudden hearing loss, numbness or weakness in the limbs, facial paralysis or chest pain, seek medical help immediately, as this could be a sign of an emergency.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, call Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists today.