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Dizziness, vertigo and imbalance are just a few of the symptoms patients with vestibular disorders may have. Patients may also experience nausea, hearing changes, anxiety, fatigue and trouble concentrating.

If you have a vestibular disorder, we will provide an evaluation to determine the best course of therapy for your vestibular disorder and its effect on your balance and quality of life. There are several causes and types of vestibular disorders that can be determined by your physician. The most common causes include:

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV is one of the most common types of peripheral vertigo. Its exact cause is unknown, but becomes more common as we age. The symptoms are caused by debris (such as dead skin cells and dirt) that has collected within a canal in the inner ear. The debris consists of small calcium carbonate crystals, often called “ear rocks,” that move through the canal as your head position changes. This sends incorrect signals to the brain and produces the sensation of vertigo.

Getting out of bed, bending over, or looking up when reaching for something overhead will often provoke symptoms. These symptoms could include:

  • Balance difficulties
  • Concentration struggles
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sudden, severe vertigo (spinning/swaying sensation)

Symptoms may not occur all the time and they may occur with only one or all of the activities.

Vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis

Vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis are caused by an irritation of the vestibular nerve within the inner ear, due to an infection. The infection is typically viral and can be preceded by any systemic viral infection, such as a common cold. The infection can move to the inner ear and cause irritation of the vestibular nerve. The irritation of the nerve results in an often sudden attack of vertigo and possible nausea. The symptoms are initially severe and can last for a period of one to four days, with gradual improvement over the next several weeks.

For many people, the symptoms will resolve on their own. For others, activities like driving, walking through the grocery store, crowds, malls or airports continue to cause dizziness and imbalance. Some people might also notice difficulty concentrating, fuzzy vision and symptoms worsening with fatigue.

Learn more about Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)

When the vestibular system has been affected due to one of the above conditions, the brain can’t rely on the information it’s receiving from the vestibular system. Your ability to maintain balance is now dependent on vision and signaling from muscles and joints.

This can lead you to compensate for the change by avoiding various head positions and movements because these increase their symptoms. The avoidances help decrease the number of instances of dizziness and nausea, but results in headache, muscle stiffness, fatigue and decreased ability for the brain to adapt to the change in the vestibular system.

Overall, these avoidances make symptoms worse and increase the need for Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT). Every step of the way, our therapists will work with you on balance retraining, gaze-stabilization exercises and more. With VRT, our goal is to help alleviate your symptoms and help you get back to your normal routine.