Dizziness, Vertigo, and Imbalance
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Dizziness, Vertigo, and Imbalance

Dizziness is a vague term which can could refer to disequilibrium, presyncope, or vertigo. It is important to be aware of the exact sensations that you experience and how they related to your activities.

The word "dizziness" could mean disequilibrium, presyncope, or vertigo, and the etiology can involve any of the systems listed. Disequilibrium is the sensation that one is off-balance. It is not connected with nausea and can result of falls, often in a specific direction. Presyncope is lightheadedness or the feeling that one is about to faint, while vertigo refers to a sensation of spinning or other movement and often is associated with nausea and vomiting and nystagmus. Thus, it is important to be aware of the exact sensations that you experience and how they related to your activities.

Disruptions of the central nervous system can lead to disequilibrium and a feeling of discoordination and an unsteady gait. Such disruptions are associated with the cerebellar system, while disruptions of the vestibular branch of cranial nerve VIII can lead to vertigo. Disturbances in the vestibular system can lead to vertigo, which often results from conflicting inputs from vestibular, proprioceptive, and visual systems. If the problem is involves cranial nerve VIII or brain structures near it, the term central vertigo is used, while peripheral vertigo refers to a disturbance involving the vestibular apparatus (labyrinths) of the inner ear. Compared to central vertigo, peripheral vertigo manifests with symptoms that are of shorter duration, but with an abrupt onset and more severity. Associated nystagmus tends to be only horizontal, not vertical.

The cardiovascular system is another possible cause of dizziness, as cardiovascular disturbances can cause presyncope. The respiratory system can be a source of dizziness too, because upper respiratory infection (URI) can lead to labyrinthitis, inflammation of the Eustachian tube, or middle ear inflammation (otitis media), all of which can cause peripheral vertigo. Labyrinthitis can present with severe vertigo, nausea and vomiting, and may also include hearing loss. vestibular neuronitis refers specifically to the inflammation of the vestibular branch of cranial nerve VIII, since generally it occurs in association with labyrinthitis the two words often are used synonymously.

One of the most common forms of vertigo is known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This can results dislodging of otoconia from their place in the part of the labyrinth known as the utricle. Gradually they can migrate into one of the semicircular canals. Ménière disease (idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops) is thought to result from abnormalities of membranous labyrinth, due to an excess of endolymph. It manifests with vertigo, tinnitus, and inconsistent sensorineural hearing loss. Although a reporting bias may be the reason for this, the reported incidence is highest in Caucasians. Additionally, the incidence is slightly higher in females compared to males. Although peak occurs between the ages of 40 to 60 years, the condition has been diagnosed in people as young as age four and also in elderly individuals.

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Comments (1)

I have MS and have vertigo as a result of damaged nerves to the brain. Some days it is so bad, I can't walk in a straight line and look as if I have been on the drink! LOL The other day I fell through a gate as I lost my balance when opening the gate and ended up grabbing hold of a woman's breast to catch myself from falling! she was OK about it, although a little embarrassed.