Dizziness, commonly described as a feeling of being unbalanced and lightheaded, can be caused by a number of factors. It could be due to motion sickness or disturbances in the inner ear that lead to imbalance. It can even be due to certain types of medication. Dizziness can also be a symptom in the case of an injury, or an infection, or owing to poor circulation of the blood. Some instances of dizziness are also attributed to neurological causes, like injured nerves. Other symptoms associated with spells of dizziness along with the circumstances that trigger dizziness can shed light on the actual cause.
A few neurological causes of dizziness have been elaborated herewith, especially their signs and symptoms.
Neurological causes of dizziness
The vestibular system refers to the area that joins the inner ear to the brain and controls the balance of the body. Any damage or injury to this area results in vestibular dysfunction and disorders. Owing to vestibular disorders, one can suffer from dizziness and in certain cases one’s sense of hearing as well as vision may also be affected. Depending on the symptoms and causes, there are a number of possible vestibular dysfunctions. Some of these vestibular disorders are outlined below:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
This disorder, abbreviated as BPPV, is a type of vestibular dysfunction where the sufferer feels like he is swaying or everything is spinning, while actually it is not. This positional vertigo is caused when a small crystal of calcium belonging to the inner ear moves its position. This change in position sends signals to the brain making one feel as if one is moving when one is not. Head movements to reposition the calcium crystal in its original location help treat the disorder.
The labyrinth is a part of the inner ear that is fragile and situated deep within. When this structure becomes inflamed, causing labyrinthitis, one experiences dizziness, ear pain, problems hearing, nausea, and fever along with pus inside the ear. Antibiotics and steroids are prescribed for bacterial causes of the infection.
- Vestibular neuritis
When the body suffers from viral infections, such as measles or chickenpox, the virus can even affect the nerves of the inner ear that ideally convey information regarding balance and sound to the brain. The symptoms of this disorder include dizziness, difficulty in walking, vomiting, and nausea. Treatment includes targeting the causative virus.
- Meniere’s disease
Meniere’s disease is caused when an excessive amount of fluid is present in the inner ear, which could be due to an autoimmune disorder, a viral infection, or an allergy. The symptoms include dizziness, vertigo, ringing in the ears (called tinnitus), and loss of hearing. Some patients might suffer from permanent loss of hearing due to the disease. Treatment includes lifestyle changes, such as cutting down on consumption of alcohol, coffee, and salt, along with medications. In some cases, surgery is required to cut the affected part and regularize the process of sending signals to the brain.
- Perilymphatic fistula
This disorder is caused because of a tear or a defect in the area between the inner ear, which is filled with liquid, and the middle ear. This, in turn, causes hearing loss and dizziness. This disorder is due to head injury, pressure in the ear, lifting heavy items, or an inborn deficit.