Approximately one third of adults 65 to 75 report that dizziness and imbalance affect the quality of their lives.
The Balance Center at the Hearing & Balance Center of Austin is proud to offer residents of Austin and the surrounding areas comprehensive balance assessment in a single location. We offer electrocochleography (ECochG), videonystagmography (VNG) with bithermal calorics, computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) as well as the latest vHIT testing. Our goal is to effectively diagnose your balance issues to get you the treatment you need as quickly as possible. For those who require physical therapy treatment, we offer specialized vestibular therapy on site, ensuring an efficient communication between your providers and convenience for you.
What is Dizziness or Vertigo?
Disorders of the inner ear that cause balance problems are miserable to experience and often quite frightening. Keeping balanced is an incredibly intricate and complicated task. It involves multiple inputs to the brain from all over the body. In order to maintain balance we must have clear and accurate information from the body (regarding the position of the trunk, legs, and arms, what you are touching, whether you are standing or sitting, and whether you are still or moving), the eyes (to keep track of our surroundings and the horizon, floor, and other visual clues), and our inner ears (mainly informing us about and confirming the position of the head relative to the rest of the body). All of this input comes in constantly, letting us adjust rapidly to keep us from falling over. Therefore, you might imagine there are lots of different places in that chain of command where information could potentially be mixed up. When the signals are crossed people feel out of whack and dizzy.
Vertigo, which is commonly used to describe dizziness of any sort, is actually defined as the feeling of motion when there is none. It is a typical reaction to an inner ear problem. People report room spins, feeling drunk, sea motions, bouncing sensations, and many other variations. Very often these feelings are associated with nausea and vomiting.
When we see people with dizziness we try to determine if the source is the inner ears or elsewhere. We ask about associated complaints and do a good exam of the ears and hearing, nervous system, and head and neck in general. We want to find out if the dizziness is a symptom of a more serious medical problem; high or low blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, brain tumor, mulitiple sclerosis, or medication side effects, among others.
Imbalance and Dizziness facts:
In the U.S., falls are the leading cause of injury-related death and injury for people 65 and older (National Safety Council).
In 2005, nearly 16,000 older adults in the U.S. died from falls; 1.8 million were treated in emergency departments; and 433,000 were hospitalized (Centers for Disease Control).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) statistics indicated that balance-related falls cause nearly half of accidental deaths in the population over the age of 65.
More than five million people consult with their doctors EACH YEAR with complaints of dizziness (Vestibular Disorders Association).
Dizziness is the number one malady for people older than 70 (Vestibular Disorders Association).
Causes of Dizziness
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV):
This is as described, a dizziness that occurs sporadically with certain positions. It is usually short lived and resolves on its own. Sometimes we need to try some special testing in the office (Hallpike and particle repositioning maneuvers) to help resolve the symptoms.
This is a common cause of dizziness that is short lived but occasionally severe. Often associated with viral infections, with time symptoms will improve.
Meniere’s Syndrome is characterized classically by episodic dizziness associated with low tone hearing loss, and buzzing and fullness in the offending ear. These events are difficult to predict and can be very severe. Over time long lasting hearing loss is common. There is no known cause or cure for Meniere’s Disease. However we have found that some medications and dietary adjustments help stabilize symptoms and may prevent flare ups.
Some migraines (vestibular migraines) can cause a feeling of imbalance and vertigo. This may be accompanied by ringing in the ears or hearing loss. Migraine-related vertigo may occur in conjunction with or separate from the migraine headache.
Acoustic neuroma is a rare benign growth on the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain. Symptoms include one-sided hearing loss, one-sided ringing or buzzing, and occasionally facial numbness, facial weakness, and visual problems.
If you’re experiencing any form of repetitive or chronic dizziness, please contact our office and schedule an appointment.