Ear Problems, Meniere’s Disease and Dizziness

Almost everyone experiences dizziness at some time in their life. People use the terms “dizziness” and “vertigo” interchangeably, but they mean two different things to doctor. Vertigo is a sensation of being dizzy caused by spinning. You feel as if you are still and the environment is spinning around you. Dizziness is a sense of unbalance that does not include spinning.

Inner Ear Inflammation and Infection

This may happen as you come down with a cold. Suddenly you get severe dizziness and it won’t go away! In addition, you may feel sick to your stomach and find it difficult to keep your balance. It could be caused by inflammation or infection of the inner ear. ENTs call this acute vestibular neuritis. This means that the inner ear or the nerve that connects the brain to the inner ear is infected or swollen. Infections in the inner ear tend to be viral where infections in the middle ear are more bacterial. If the nerve is inflamed, you may find a sudden decrease in hearing. Viral infections are difficult to treat and many times the infection must run its course.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

You experience this form of vertigo when you change positions. It may happen when you sit or stand quickly, turn you head quickly, or get out of bed in the morning. The symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo usually last no more than a minute. This condition is rarely serious, but it can be quite annoying. It is caused by the movement of very fine crystals in your ear that function to make you sensitive to gravity.

Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease can begin at any age, but it is most common after the age of 40. You may have severe vertigo that is accompanied by tinnitus or a sense of fullness in your ear. It’s caused by a buildup of fluid in the ear. In addition to tinnitus you may also experience hearing loss during an episode of Meniere’s disease. Unlike fluid buildup in the middle ear, this fluid cannot be easily drained. The fluid causes inflammation to the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain.

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