By the age of 65 dizziness is the third most common complaint bringing people to the doctor, rising to number one after the age of 75. However, dizziness and balance problems can affect people of any age. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication disorders, more than 1 in 20 children suffer from a balance disorder with that number increasing with age.
Danielle Grisanti, ANP-BC and Jordan Trigilio, FNP-BC, are both providers in the DENT Dizziness, Balance and Tinnitus Clinic. Specializing in general neurology and disorders affecting the inner ear, Grisanti and Trigilio sat down with us to discuss common disorders within their specialty.
“Through our research we have found that on average patients will have seen three different providers before making it to our Dizziness, Balance and Tinnitus clinic,” said Grisanti.
Those providers often prescribe patients suffering from dizziness, Meclizine. Meclizine is a medicine that may temporarily reduce symptoms of dizziness or imbalance, but will not have long term improvements.
“At the DENT Dizziness, Balance and Tinnitus Center our goal is to not only find the underlying cause of your dizziness, but to appropriately treat both the dizziness and the underlying condition,” said Grisanti.
Dizziness vs. Vertigo
What is the difference between dizziness and vertigo?
Dizziness is often described as a sensation of floating. Patients who suffer from dizziness may feel light headed foggy, or disorientated.
Vertigo is the feeling that the entire room is spinning and can last differing amounts of time.
Types of Dizziness
Peripheral vs. Central Dizziness
There are two types of dizziness that patients may be experiencing, peripheral and central dizziness. Peripheral dizziness is a dizziness that originates in the vestibular system, or middle ear.
Common Peripheral Dizziness disorders include:
• Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
• Vestibular Neuritis
• Meniere’s Disease
Central Dizziness originates in the central nervous system. This type of dizziness can be a caused by a problem in the brain stem.
Common central dizziness disorders include:
• Benign Recurrent Vertigo
• Migraine Associated Vertigo
• Chronic Subjective Dizziness
• Mal de Debarquement Syndrome
At DENT we have a number of diagnostic tests available to determine the cause of your dizziness and imbalance. One of the tests our providers use is a Videonystagmography, or a VNG test. The VNG evaluates the balance function of the inner ear by observing eye movements.
Rotary Chair testing is another way of evaluating how well your eyes and inner ear are working together. This test helps determine whether your dizziness or imbalance is caused by non-vestibular disorders.
Imbalance is described as an unsteadiness without light-headedness or dizziness. Imbalance is fairly common in older populations as 40 percent of the neurons associated with balance are lost by the time a person turns 75.
For issues with imbalance Grisanti and Trigilio recommend giving the brain a fourth point of stability.
“We need 3 systems to work well in order to maintain balance,” says Grisanti. “The eyes, ears, and feet are all engaged to assist the brain in maintaining stability. If there is a dysfunction in one of those systems, you’re going to have a balance issue.”
“This where patients will do well with an assistive device like a cane,” added Trigilio. “Giving the brain that third point of stability if you do struggle with balance is often helpful.”
Tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears, is an audiologic phenomenon that occurs due to hearing changes and the way the brain reacts to those changes. Sometimes the brain overcompensates for the hearing changes by creating sound, producing tinnitus.
Every tinnitus patient presents differently and that presentation influences treatment. Some patients may have had constant, unchanging tinnitus for 20 years caused by a loss of hearing. Often those patients do well with sound therapy and hearing devices.
Some patients may present with fluctuating tinnitus. One day the tinnitus may be quiet, another day it may be loud. This type of tinnitus can fluctuate based on the level of physiologic stress that day. “If you wake up with Tinnitus first thing in the morning, I can bet you didn’t sleep well the night before,” said Grisanti. “Our program is so successful because we look at you as a whole and optimize these conditions that can help bring that volume down.”
For more information on Dizziness, Tinnitus and Imbalance visit our website today and watch the full presentation below!
The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice. Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.