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Diseases Caused by Dizziness: What You Should Know and What you May Not Know

At one point or another, we all have experienced a dizzy spell or felt a little “off” when first standing up. Dizzy spells are common and can be caused by dehydration or low blood sugar. However, there are instances in which dizziness occurs as a result of certain diseases. It’s important to be aware of the root causes of dizziness and to know when to see a doctor for it. 

At one point or another, we all have experienced a dizzy spell or felt a little “off” when first standing up. Dizzy spells are common and can be caused by dehydration or low blood sugar. However, there are instances in which dizziness occurs as a result of certain diseases. It’s important to be aware of the root causes of dizziness and to know when to see a doctor for it. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, a balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy, as if you are moving, spinning or floating, even though you are standing still or lying down. The cause of balance disorders can be related to health conditions, medications, or a problem in the inner ear or the brain. Examples include a viral or bacterial infection in the ear, an injury to the head, or a blood circulation disorder that affects the inner ear. 

If you feel like the room is spinning, this may be a sign that your balance is impaired. Some other symptoms can include: 

  • Staggering when walking, or falling or feeling as if you are going to fall when you stand up.
  • Lightheadedness, faintness, or a floating sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion or disorientation 

In addition, other symptoms of a dizziness or balance disorder can be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, fear, anxiety or panic. 

As we age, we notice that our strength isn’t what it used to be, or that we are unable to participate in activities or tasks that we once could. Often, issues with balance and dizziness coincide with aging, and occasionally can result from taking certain medications. The National Institutes of Health states that there are more than a dozen different balance disorders, but the most common are: 

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) or positional vertigo- brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness.
  • Labyrinthitis - when the inner ear is inflamed, causing loss of balance or dizziness.
  • Ménière's disease - a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance.
  • Vestibular neuronitis - single or multiple attacks of vertigo or a persistent condition that diminishes over three to six weeks.
  • Perilymph fistula - an abnormal opening between the air-filled middle ear and the fluid-filled inner ear.
  • Mal de Debarquement syndrome (MdDS) - an imbalance or rocking/swaying sensation often both felt and seen by the sufferer occurring after motion exposure.

If you experience any unexplained, recurrent, or severe dizziness, seek medical attention. You should call 911 or go to the emergency room if you experience vertigo or dizziness along with the following symptoms: 

  • Significant head injury
  • A new, different or severe headache
  • A fever higher than 101°F (38.3° C)
  • A very stiff neck
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Speech impairment
  • Leg or arm weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Falling or difficulty walking
  • Chest pain, or rapid or slow heart rate

The Crozer-Keystone Center for Dizziness and Balance provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for people suffering from balance and dizziness problems. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-95-DIZZY (1-877-953-4999) or visit www.ckdizzy.org

Reviewed by John C. Munshower, D.O., a primary care physician who is board-certified in Geriatrics and Family Medicine and is on the staff of Crozer-Chester Medical Center. He is currently the acting chairman of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Crozer and is a medical director of the Crozer-Keystone Center for Dizziness and Balance at Springfield Hospital.

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