Vertigo (Dizziness) in Tampa and Spring Hill, FL
Dizziness and vertigo are well-known conditions that typically start in the balance system of the inner ear. Here, the signals that are sent from the eyes, bones and joints are shared with the brain and nervous system to coordinate movement. If any of these signals are disrupted, a person may experience balance impairment. Our ENT specialists are board-certified in Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, so the residents of Tampa, Spring Hill and surrounding areas in Florida feel confident in their treatment for vertigo/dizziness at Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists.
What Is Vertigo?
Vertigo, also referred to as a balance disorder, is feeling motion when no motion is occurring. The causes of vertigo include a problem with the inner ear’s balance mechanisms or issues within the brain. Although vertigo is harmless, it can indicate a serious condition if it is accompanied by symptoms such as difficulty speaking or walking, double vision or severe headaches. Even if no other symptoms exist, we recommend that anyone experiencing vertigo be examined by one of our ENT specialists, but treatment is especially important if your symptoms worsen.
What Is Dizziness?
Dizziness is a term used to describe lightheadedness or to feel faint, weak and unsteady. Vertigo is the dizziness that creates the sensation that you or your surroundings are moving or spinning.
Dizziness ranks behind fatigue and chest for the top reasons that adults visit their doctors. Experiencing frequent dizzy spells or constant dizziness may affect your level of productivity, but it is rarely a serious, life-threatening condition. The treatment for dizziness is dependent upon your symptoms and the cause of the condition. The treatments are usually effective.
The Anatomy of Balance
Dizziness and vertigo relate to the sense of balance and equilibrium. Researchers of aeronautical and space medicine refer to this as spatial orientation. Spatial orientation tells the brain where the body is “in space”, the direction it is pointed in, in what direction it is moving and if the body is standing still or turning.
Symptoms of a Balance Disorder
A balance disorder is characterized by lightheadedness, blurred vision, dizziness, and disorientation.
People with a balance disorder may experience other symptoms that include confusion, depression, loss of concentration, diarrhea, faintness, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, fatigue and depression. Tinnitus, hearing loss and fullness in the ears are a few of the other possible symptoms.
We advise our patients that vertigo and dizziness are not the same. Vertigo is the sensation of movement in your surroundings while dizziness is a feeling of disequilibrium and lightheadedness.
What Causes Vertigo and Dizziness?
A number of factors can cause feelings of vertigo or dizziness. Some of these factors include:
- Head trauma
- Inner ear abnormalities
- High blood pressure
- Benign tumors
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Heart conditions
- Neurological disorders
- Vascular disorders
- Low blood pressure
Symptoms and Signs
Many signs and symptoms accompany vertigo. If you, or someone you love, have any of these, you should schedule an appointment with one of our competent ear specialists.
Signs and symptoms you should look out for include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nasal congestion and drainage
- Hearing loss
- Frequent falls
- Ringing in the ears
Common Balance Disorders
Some of the more common balance disorders include Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is the result of calcium crystals in the semicircular canals that move with any change in head position. Another balance disorder is Ménière’s disease, a condition that is caused by abnormal levels of fluid in the ears. Labyrinthitis is also a common disorder that causes irritation and swelling of the inner ear.
The types of treatment used depend on the causes of the vertigo or dizziness. Some remedies include medications (sedatives, antibiotics, steroids, and antihistamines), balance retraining exercises (vestibular rehabilitation), surgery, physical therapy and lifestyle changes (changes in diet, avoiding alcohol and nicotine).
Your Suncoast ENT diagnoses vertigo based on your description of your symptoms. Vertigo is divided into two categories, peripheral and central.
Peripheral vertigo: the most common form, includes labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease, and benign positional vertigo. Positional vertigo is diagnosed when moving the head is the cause of the vertigo and returning the head to its original position relieves the symptoms. Labyrinthitis and Ménière’s attacks usually occur abruptly. The episodes can last from a few hours to a couple of days. Intense nausea, vomiting and variable hearing loss may occur during the episode.
Central vertigo: a more serious problem within the cerebellum (the back part of the brain or brain stem).
Your Suncoast ENT will examine your eyes to look for any abnormal, jerking motions (nystagmus). The pattern of your eye movement can help your physician determine if the issue is central or peripheral. Usually, you will not need any further testing unless it is suspected that you have central vertigo. If your physician believes that you have central vertigo, your Suncoast ENT will order a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your brain.
Again, individual treatment for vertigo depends on the causes and the severity of the attacks. If vertigo is caused by a bacterial infection middle ear, the infection is treated with antibiotics. In more serious cases, an ENT might recommend surgical intervention. The medications used to treat the condition can be taken intravenously, by mouth or through a skin patch.
The most common treatment for vertigo uses physical maneuvers, known as vestibular rehabilitation exercises. The exercises involve having the patient lie down on a table on one side until the condition subsides. The patient then turns to the other side quickly. The movement is repeated until the vertigo no longer is felt.
If you are not careful, vertigo can cause you to fall. The following tips will help you reduce your chances of falling.
- Try to avoid changing positions quickly. When you rise from your bed or chair, take a moment to sit on the edge. Then, lift yourself up slowly.
- Ask your doctor about exercises that can improve your balance and reduce the symptoms of vertigo.
- Sit down when you start to feel like the room is spinning.
Feeling the room spin around you is an uncomfortable and frightening experience. You may even fall and injure yourself as you try to clear your head. Vertigo (dizziness) has many causes, and the ENT physicians of Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists provide the treatment you need for vertigo (dizziness). Contact our Tampa or Spring Hill office to schedule a consultation.