What is Vestibular Dizziness?
Vestibular Dizziness is a condition in which an individual has a sense of imbalance and a sensation as if he or she is going to pass out. Dizziness is quite a common condition and can occur in anyone once in a while but if it starts to persist and occurs for days without resolving then it may caused due to a vestibular system dysfunction and hence is termed as Vestibular Dizziness.
Anatomically speaking, the body is able to balance itself based on the sensory information given primarily by three systems which are vision, proprioception, and the vestibular system which is the inner ear. The inputs from these three systems helps the body maintains balance and any dysfunction in one of these systems may lead to imbalance and a sense of dizziness.
If the vestibular system is healthy it gives the brain the most reliable information and keeps an individual steady on his or her feet but in case if there is a vestibular disorder or dysfunction then it leads to what we call as Vestibular Dizziness.
What Causes Vestibular Dizziness?
As stated, Vestibular Dizziness is mainly caused by a vestibular dysfunction. There are many causes which can lead to vestibular dysfunction like a head injury, the natural process of aging, or a viral infection. There are also other conditions and illnesses that may result in a vestibular dysfunction resulting in Vestibular Dizziness. Some of the medical causes of Vestibular Dizziness are:
Acoustic Neuroma: This is a benign tumor which grows within the vestibulocochlear nerve and results in vestibular dysfunction causing Vestibular Dizziness.
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease: This occurs when the defense mechanism of the body attacks its own cells of the inner ear and damages them resulting in vestibular dysfunction causing vestibular dizziness. Some of the autoimmune diseases than can affect the inner ear are Wegener’s granulomatosis, systemic lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: This is a condition which results as a result of loose debris collecting within the inner ear. It can also occur as a result of degeneration of inner ear hair cells due to the process of aging causing vestibular dysfunction resulting in vestibular dizziness.
Cholesteatoma: This is a condition in which there is skin growth within the middle ear and can affect the functioning of the inner ear resulting in vestibular dysfunction causing vestibular dizziness.
Labyrinthitis: These are inflammatory conditions caused due to viral infections that affect the inner ear causing vestibular dizziness due to vestibular dysfunction.
Ménière’s Disease: This is yet another condition which affects the inner ear due to abnormalities in the composition and pressure of the endolymph which is a fluid found in the inner ear causing vestibular dysfunction resulting in Vestibular Dizziness.
How is Vestibular Dizziness Treated?
Vestibular dizziness is basically treated conservatively, although surgery is also one of the ways to treat vestibular dysfunction causing vestibular dizziness. Some of the methods to treat Vestibular Dizziness are:
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy: This is an exercise based therapy which helps the patient get rid of any vestibular dysfunction causing Vestibular Dizziness. The treatment includes vestibular habituation, gaze stabilization, balance training exercises.
Surgery to Treat Peripheral Vestibular Disorders: This surgery is aimed at repairing any damage done to the inner ear as a result of an injury or an infection. Some of the surgical procedures done to correct inner ear problem and thus treat vestibular dizziness are vestibular neurectomy, labyrinthectomy, endolymphatic sac decompression, and PE tubes.
Apart from these measures, vestibular exercises and medications can also be utilized to treat vestibular dysfunction causing vestibular dizziness.
How is Vestibular Dizziness Diagnosed?
When a patient presents to the physician complaining of dizziness, the physician is likely to enquire if there was any history of a head injury or any type of viral infections recently. The physician may then do a battery of tests to include an electronystagmogram to check the function of the ear.
The ENT physician may also check the cervical spine for any abnormalities in the form of MRI and CT scan to see if that may be the cause of the patient’s symptoms. Once all the studies are done and turns out to be negative and the ENG confirms an inner ear dysfunction then a diagnosis is confirmed of a vestibular dysfunction causing vestibular dizziness.