Vestibular FAQ: Conditions - Balance Chicago Physical Therapy

Vestibular FAQ: Conditions

Did you know your vestibular system controls your balance?

What is the most common condition that causes dizziness?

The most common condition that causes dizziness is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). BPPV accounts for approximately 8% of moderate to severe dizziness/vertigo episodes and up to 50% of inner ear related dizziness.

BPPV is a condition in which the otoconia or “crystals” in one part of the inner ear get displaced into another part of the inner ear. This results in symptoms of positional dizziness. Positional dizziness is most often felt while lying down, sitting up quickly, bending forward, or looking up. It can be hard for some patients to differentiate exactly what movements or positions are making them dizzy, which is why a healthcare provider should appropriately test for BPPV. Appropriate testing for BPPV should include the use of video goggles to adequately detect positional nystagmus (rapid eye movement associated with BPPV). 

What are other common conditions that produce dizziness?

Some other common causes of dizziness include Neuritis/Labyrinthitis, Vestibular Migraines, Meniere’s disease, Concussions, and Cervicogenic dizziness.

  • Neuritis or Labyrinthitis occurs when a virus or bacteria enters the inner ear and disrupts the nerve that conducts signals from the inner ear to the brain.
    • Neuritis is when only the vestibular component of the nerve is affected
    • Labyrinthitis is when both the vestibular component and the hearing component of the nerve are affected.
  • Migraine related dizziness is a newer diagnosis that is given to people who have episodic dizziness that appears to be related to migraines or triggers that are commonly associated with migraines.
  • Meniere’s disease is an extremely rare, progressive condition that causes dizziness and hearing loss due to abnormalities in the fluid in the inner ear.
  • Concussions can cause a variety of symptoms but up to 80% of people report dizziness in their first few days following their head injury.
  • Cervicogenic dizziness refers to dizziness that is related to the neck. This is often the result of some type of neck injury such as whiplash from being rear-ended. 

Who do these conditions affect most?

Dizziness can affect anyone of any age or gender. There is a common misconception that dizziness only affects the elderly, but past the age of 20, dizziness is a relatively common occurrence. In fact, 80% of people aged 65 and older have experienced dizziness at some point in their lifetime. However, the consequences of being dizzy tend to be greater in older adults due to the risk of falling and injuring oneself. 

While dizziness may not discriminate in regards to age, there is some evidence that suggests women are slightly more prone to dizziness than men. There is not a lot of research that explains this gender difference but some theorize that it is related to hormonal changes. Additionally, having one vestibular condition can put you at an increased risk for others. For example, while BPPV can occur as an isolated incidence, people with vestibular migraine and Meniere’s disease are more vulnerable to this condition.

If you have questions or are interested in talking with one of our therapists one-on-one, please feel free to reach out to Balance Chicago at 773-525-5200 or visit our click HERE to schedule your appointment.

Blog written by: Dr. Kylie Reese Schmidlkofer, PT, DPT

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