Conditions of the Vestibular System that can cause Vertigo, Dizziness and Imbalance
Common Patient Complaints...
This is a sensation of lightheadedness, faintness or unsteadiness.
Vertigo is the sensation of spinning. Even when being still, you may feel like you are
moving or that the room is moving around you. You may also experience nausea,
vomiting, sweating, and abnormal eye movements.
This is an unsteadiness, imbalance or difficulty in maintaining balance.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
This vestibular condition occurs when the calcium carbonate crystals (otoconia), found in the vestibular system
become dislodged. They migrate into the fluid filled semicircular canals and cause vertigo when moving into certain positions (laying down, rolling in bed, looking up and down). This can occur from head injury, cold/sinus infections,
and often for no reason. Because the otoconia will degenerate with age, it is the most common reason for vertigo in individuals over 65 years old.
Vestibular Labrynthitis / Neuronitis
These conditions occur when a viral infection causes damage to the hearing and vestibular nerve (labyrinthitis), resulting in dizziness/balance function, and a hearing loss. Vestibular Neuronitis is a viral infection that results in
dizziness and balance issues (without a hearing loss).
Acoustic Neuroma (pre/post surgery)
Is a very slow growing benign tumor which over time can eventually compromise and press on the vestibular
and/or cochlear (hearing) nerve. This gradually results in diminished balance and/or hearing.
This condition is a result of abnormalities in the amount or pressure of the endolymph fluid that is within the inner
ear. Individuals will have episodes of vertigo usually lasting hours, with nausea and may be accompanied by hearing
loss, ear fullness and tinnitus.
Mal de debarquement
This is a sensation of rocking or movement that persists after a
cruise or air travel. Individuals will feel like they are still on the “boat” when on stable ground.
This is a clinical syndrome of disequilibrium and disorientation/dizziness in patients with neck problems that
include cervical trauma (whiplash), arthritis and muscle spasms.
This vestibular condition is caused by exposure to certain drugs or chemicals (ie, intravenous amino glycoside antibiotics) that damage the inner ear nerve hair cells or the vestibulo-cochlear nerve. This can result in dizziness,
imbalance and commonly a sensation that the environment “bounces” (oscillopsia) when moving or walking.
Migraine Associated Vertigo
This is typically characterized by head pain with symptoms associated with vestibular impairment such as motion,
light and sound sensitivity; tinnitus, dizziness and imbalance.
Individuals with Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Stroke can result in dizziness/vertigo, imbalance and gait abnormalities, as well a risk for falls.
Traumatic Brain Injury/ Concussion
Dizziness, vertigo and imbalance can result from trauma to the brain. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
is a common occurrence following head trauma. Other symptoms which may occur are vision issues, memory and
sleep changes, and headaches.