Dizziness, vertigo and motion sickness are all related to the sense of balance and equilibrium. Inner ear problems are often linked to the feeling of imbalance, turning or spinning.

A complex interaction of different parts of your nervous system maintains balance. These include:

What causes dizziness?

Circulation

Circulation disorders are among the most common causes of dizziness. If your brain does not get enough blood flow, you feel lightheaded. Individuals with chronic lightheadedness often have other conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, inadequate heart function or anemia.

Poor circulation to the brain and imbalance can also be caused by stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine; excess salt use; emotional stress; anxiety and tension.

The inner ear monitors alterations of blood flow, and all of the causes mentioned for poor circulation to the brain apply specifically to the inner ear. If the inner ear lacks blood flow or fluid becomes imbalanced, vertigo may appear.

Injury

A skull fracture that damages the inner ear produces a profound and incapacitating vertigo with nausea and hearing loss. This will last for several weeks and then slowly improve as the healthy ear takes over all the inner ear functions.

Infection

Viruses, such as those causing the common cold or flu, can attack the inner ear and nerve connections to the brain, causing vertigo. A bacterial infection that extends into the inner ear will completely destroy hearing and balance function. The severity of dizziness and recovery time varies but typically lasts several weeks and then improves slowly.

Allergy

Dizziness or vertigo may appear as an allergic reaction to foods or airborne particles such as dust, mold, pollen or dander.

Neurological Diseases

A number of nerve diseases can affect balance including multiple sclerosis, syphilis and tumors. These are uncommon causes but your physician will consider them.

If you are experiencing dizziness:

What will happen at my visit to Mid-Kansas Ear, Nose & Throat?

Each patient will receive individualized attention from a physician at MKENT. The physician will discuss symptoms, how long an episode lasts, if there are circumstances that bring it on, and if it is associated with hearing loss, nausea or vomiting. Patients will need to answer questions about general health, current medications, recent infections and other relevant health topics.

The physician will examine the ears, nose and throat, and test nerve and balance function. Because the inner ear controls both balance and hearing, disorders of balance often affect hearing and vice versa. Patients may undergo hearing tests (audiograms), skull x-rays, a CT or MRI scan, or electronystagmography (ENG), which stimulates the inner ear and then tests eye motion. In some cases, blood tests or a heart evaluation might be recommended. Not every patient will require every test.