Sometimes people have a problem with balance, hearing and even vision, mainly due to damage in the link that connects these functions. These can be noted in vestibulopathy. This article deals with what is vestibulopathy and its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
What is Vestibulopathy?
Knowing about vestibulopathy helps to improve the understanding, which not only helps to manage the condition better but also prevents other complications related to vestibulopathy. The symptoms of vestibulopathy may sound similar to vertigo and related problems, but a precise diagnosis can help to plan the most appropriate treatment for vestibulopathy.
The ear is divided into 3 segments. the outer, middle and inner ear. There is a link that exists between the inner ear and the brain. The function of this link is to keep a balance when you get out of your bed or when you need to walk on the rough space. In case there is any damage to this link, you will have a problem with both the vision and hearing and this situation is called as vestibulopathy.
Causes of Vestibulopathy
Vestibulopathy is a rare disease. In the USA, just 28 people out of 1 lakh suffer from vestibulopathy1. There can be several reasons for which vestibulopathy occur.
However, it is found in the research that almost 35% of vestibulopathy is caused due to the exposure of ototoxic medication2. Some of the powerful antibiotics such as streptomycin, gentamicin, tobramycin, and vancomycin are mainly responsible for this disease. However, 10% of vestibulopathy is also caused due to infection, bilateral ear surgery, sarcoidosis, Meniere’s disease, congenital disorder, migraine, and mondini malformation etc. Apart from this, age is also a major risk factor for this disease. In recent research, it is seen that when a person crosses 80 years of age, the vestibular ganglion cell counts usually decreases and in such cases, the person has a high risk of developing vestibulopathy. While these are some of the possible causes of vestibulopathy, in some cases, it may also occur without any known cause.
Symptoms of Vestibulopathy
Some of the common symptoms of vestibulopathy are as follows.
Vertigo and Dizziness3. It is commonly seen that many patients experience vertigo, hence it is considered as one of the commonest symptoms of vestibulopathy. Vertigo is a type of feelings when the whole world seems to be moving to a person. The patients experience this type of feelings when they stand and try to move. This feeling may remain until they sit down in a specific position. Apart from that, they also feel dizzy, heavily weighted or such that they are being pulled in a certain direction.
Balance and Spatial Orientation. The other symptoms of vestibulopathy may include the feeling of an imbalance and stumbling while walking. He also feels difficulty in maintaining a straight posture. He may also feel clumsiness and a tendency to look downwards for confirming the location of the ground.
Difficulty in Vision as a Symptom of Vestibulopathy. The patient may also feel difficulty in vision. They may feel problem on focusing or tracking something with the eyes. Apart from that, they may also feel discomfort in a busy environment such as in traffic or in crowded places.
Other Symptoms of Vestibulopathy. The patient may have a problem with hearing. It may make the person easily become mentally or physically fatigued. In most cases, it is seen that the patient loose self-confidence and he also suffers from anxiety and depression.
Diagnosis of Vestibulopathy
The diagnosis of vestibulopathy is done based on patient history, physical examination and laboratory evaluation. The diagnosis of vestibulopathy is made when the vestibulo-ocular reflex function is absent or significantly impaired.
Treatment of Vestibulopathy
The treatment of vestibulopathy is aimed at treating the underlying cause As far as treatment is concerned, it is mostly seen that patient is advised to take rehabilitative treatments with the help of Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT). Apart from that, the patient should also go through therapeutic treatment. Moreover, some home-based exercises are also very beneficial in the treatment of vestibulopathy. These are best done under the guidance of expert therapists. It is also very essential to adjust the diet of the patient. Sometimes, surgery may also be required depending on the condition of the patient especially when the problem of vertigo and other serious symptoms of the patient cannot be controlled with medication and therapy.
Thus, it is seen that vestibulopathy, although occurring rarely, can be debilitating condition for many. Now that you are aware of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, you can seek medical advice, if needed. If you experience any of the symptoms given above, it is necessary to go to the doctor immediately and get it diagnosed properly. Moreover, it is always advised to take preventive measures by avoiding powerful ototoxicity antibiotic medication as far as possible.