by K.V. Hughes, III, MD, FACS, Kentucky Ear, Nose & Throat
Dizziness… it is a hard feeling to describe; but when it strikes you, it can be disabling. As there can be many causes for dizziness, we need to try to determine the underlying source …and there are many!
Most of the causes are benign and self-limiting but can definitely disrupt our lives even temporarily. As ENT physicians, we try to help determine the cause and treat accordingly. The description of symptoms is very helpful. For example, a true spinning sensation: either 1) the patient feels as if they are spinning or 2) they feel that the room is spinning around them are often symptoms of an inner ear problem. The most common, and treatable, form of vertigo is related to positional changes: rolling over in bed, looking up or down, or sudden side to side movements. This usually only lasts for several seconds but often leaves one with a low-grade nausea sensation for long periods of time. The medical diagnostic term for this is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV. Despite the fancy name, the treatment is much more basic. It is designed to restore the normal movement of the inner ear fluids by a series of orchestrated head movements. The theory behind this is that a small “crystal” or cupolith has been displaced and needs to be returned to its proper position in the inner ear. This will “cure” the majority of patients with this type of vertigo.
There are often more serious forms of vertigo that need to be addressed on a more urgent basis. Vertigo that lasts several hours or days can lead to dehydration and may require immediate treatment. These symptoms can be caused by: an inner ear fluid imbalance (known as Meniere’s Disease), a viral illness, an increase in pressure around the brain, or possibly a benign tumor on the nerve of hearing and balance (acousticovestibular nerve). Often, medications can be prescribed to help deal with the acute symptoms but the patient will need to be seen by an ENT specialist to determine the diagnosis and treatment plan.
Don’t suffer from vertigo. Call Lexington Clinic today at (859) 258-4362 to schedule your appointment with an ENT specialist.
K.V. Hughes, III, MD, FACS is board-certified in Otolaryngology. He provides services in general and pediatric ENT, sinus and allergy problems; voice problems and ear, nose and throat surgery. Dr. Hughes can be reached at (859) 278-1114.