Dizziness Vertigo and Meniere’s Disease – Differences and Treatment
Dizziness is a very broad term that has no specific medical definition. Many times people complain of dizziness but are in fact referring to different types of symptoms that are often chalked up as “dizziness”. Some examples are vertigo, light-headedness, and Meniere’s Disease.
To better define dizziness the symptoms and types have to be defined as well. Since dizziness is only felt and observed by the patient, ENT doctors find it very hard to take note of and treat. Only the patient may tell how severe the pain is and how it feels.
Causes of Dizziness
Dizziness can be caused by all sorts of factors. Imbalances of fluids in the inner ear, loud and sudden sounds like nearby explosions, a physical fall that resulted to a bump in the head or ear, or even cancer may cause dizziness.
- Vertigo – vertigo is a sensation of spinning. It could feel like the world or surrounding environment is spinning rapidly, creating a feeling of sickness. Vertigo may be caused by an inner ear infection, change in pressure, or BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), a condition where particles clump inside the inner ear.
When untreated, vertigo may even lead to permanent hearing loss.
- Meniere’s Disease – this is a condition where the patient experience spontaneous episodes of vertigo and this is often accompanied by feelings of ear pressure, tinnitus (ringing sound in the ear), and fluctuating loss of hearing capacity.
Over time, Meniere’s Disease may also lead to hearing loss and severe cases of anxiety or depression. This is one of the reasons why it is often called “the silent killer” inside a patient’s head.
Treatment for Dizziness
Unfortunately there is no direct treatment for any form of dizziness. For the most part ENT doctors prescribe the following medications which target the symptoms, not the actual disease:
- Medications for motion sickness – these prescription drugs may control the spinning sensation and prevent nausea and vomiting.
- Medications for nausea –anti-nausea drugs like promethazine will prevent nausea and vomiting during vertigo episodes but they won’t actually cure the issue.
There are also several operations that may be given:
- Hearing aids and a Meniett Device – a hearing aid will improve a person’s ability to hear despite having Meniere’s Disease and a Meniett Device is designed to signal out pre-designed pulses inside the ear, regulating pressure in the inner canal.
- Gentamicin Injection – this drug will reduce the frequency of spinning attacks (vertigo) but it may also lead to further hearing loss. It can also be replaced with steroid injections although they are not as effective.
- Surgery – labyrinthectomy is a procedure that removes the entire balancing portion of the ear, rendering a person deaf and incapable of audio-balancing. This is only done when the condition has already severely affected hearing to the point where removal does not make much of a difference to the patient.
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