Dizziness & Vertigo Causes of Being Dizzy and Vertigo - loss of balance

Causes of Dizziness & Vertigo in Seniors 

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Dizziness / Vertigo - Loss of Balance 

Dizziness or being dizzy - It's an odd feeling and one that is hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it.  Explaining being dizzy is like trying to explain what yellow is to someone who has never had sight.

Feeling dizzy is a subjective experience.  While some would explain it as being unsteady, someone else would explain it in visual terms like they are spinning.  Others would describe feeling dizzy as being light-headed and ready to faint.

Vertigo is described similarly, but more like everything else is spinning.  Because these terms are actually fairly vague and man of they symptoms are the same, we shall group them all together.  Both dizziness and vertigo can be caused by a wide variety of things including being sick, blood pressure disorders, or blocked ears.

Typical symptoms of dizziness and vertigo:

  • Confusion

  • Feeling faint

  • Unsteadiness

  • Feeling like you are moving

  • Loss of balance

Additional signs of dizziness and vertigo:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Headaches

  • Speech difficulties

  • Loss of hearing

  • Strange eye movements (like rolling back)  

  • Inability to walk properly 

  • Falling

Loss of Balance

Dizziness can be caused by problems with the inner ear.  Inside the ear are canals filled with liquid.  Movement and head position is primarily measured in the inner ear and this then corroborated by what the person sees.  When the inner ear and the eyes don't agree, dizziness results.  

Causes of dizziness 

  • Inner ear problems - Dizziness is caused by problems in the inner ear in about half of all cases of "persistent dizziness". Inner ear disorders that cause people to be dizzy include Meniere's disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis and acoustic neuroma.
  • Anxiety - About 15 percent of cases of dizziness are caused by anxiety issues, including panic attacks and phobias.
  • Brain (neuro and vascular) disorders - Brain problems account for about five per cent of dizziness cases. Brain disorders that can cause dizziness include stroke, migraine, Parkinson's disease, and brain tumors.
  • Medical conditions - Dizziness can also be caused by medical conditions like as low blood pressure, infection, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and some heart problems (such as cardiac arrhythmia). Medications that are used to treat conditions such as epilepsy, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure can also cause dizziness in some people.
  • Other factors - While the above factors are the largest contributors to dizziness, other factors include motion sickness, marijuana use, withdrawing from alcohol, fibromyalgia, and being over-heated.
  • Unknown causes - in about a quarter of cases, a cause isn't found.

Diagnosis Methodologies

Depending on the reason for dizziness, the cause may be diagnosed using a variety of methods:

  • Personal medical history and intensive question and answer about health and lifestyle
  • Physical examination
  • Hearing tests
  • Fasting blood glucose test
  • Tests to check the structures of the inner ear
  • CT or MRI scans of the brain, if conditions such as stroke or tumor are suspected
  • Angiogram to check blood flow to the brain
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG), if epilepsy is suspected (not a biggie for seniors

Treatment options 

Treatment for dizziness depends on the cause of the problem.  If it is an inner ear infection, antibiotics would probably be prescribed.  The prescription for emotional issues would include counseling and perhaps some anti-anxiety medications. In cases where a cause for the dizziness can't be found, treatment options may include:

  • Bed rest
  • Medications to reduce the dizziness or the effects
  • Anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Exercise
Things to remember
  • Most cases of dizziness are caused by problems of the inner ear, brain, or nerves that connect the inner ear to the brain.
  • Causes of dizziness include viral or bacterial infection of the inner ear, nerve inflammation, stroke, and anxiety disorders such as panic attacks.
  • In about a quarter of cases, a cause for dizziness isn't found.

End - Dizziness / Vertigo - Loss of Balance 


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