Balance, Dizziness & Vertigo

Texas Professional Hearing Center, Inc is a world-class balance center with an all-inclusive setting designed to restore balance and quality hearing back to your life. We offer innovative solutions for all ages, including pediatric patients. Our patients are often referred by their primary care doctor (general, internal & family medicine), neurologist, otolaryngologist (ENT), and pediatrician. We welcome patient and self-referrals as well.

We believe it’s possible to eliminate the many frustrations that come with seeing doctor after doctor – with no real relief.  Our audiologists take an integrated approach to your care – providing accurate diagnosis and treatment to eliminate the time-consuming challenges that come from traveling from specialist to specialist, or to different therapies.  We evaluate and confirm the inner ear involvement, then provide solution and treatment options that are realistic, enjoyable, and feasible.  Our unwavering commitment to our patients sets us apart in the medical community.

Our practice is built on trust. We hope you’ll feel empowered and confident in your care at every step. We also believe in patient education. Our support and clinical staff are happy to provide care, resources and consultations that lead you to renewed emotional and physical well-being.

Understanding Balance, Dizziness & Vertigo

Balance requires the interaction between many different organs and systems in the body.  The brain is the central processing center for all balance information coming from the senses and for all information going out to the muscles of balance.  Input comes from three main areas: vision, touch (feet and joints), and the balance portion of the inner ear.  

Balance is maintained by the interactions in the brain of nerve impulses from the inner ear, the eye, the neck muscles, and the muscles and joints of the limbs. A disturbance in any of these areas may result in the subjective sensation of dizziness or unsteadiness. General disturbances of body function may lead to dizziness by interfering with coordination of the impulses of the brain.

Feelings of dizziness (abnormal sensation of motion) can mean many different things and are often linked to problems affecting the equilibrium system. Dizziness can be caused by numerous disturbances to any of the different parts of the body. Common causes for dizziness and imbalance are:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
  • Loss of balance and unsteadiness
  • Migraine
  • Vestibular Neuronitis / Neuritis

Reduce or eliminate challenges so you can live dizzy-free. As one of the country’s most inclusive dizziness and balance facilities, our specialties include:

  • The distinction as one of few facilities of its kind to offer comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic resources, with specialty in difficult-to-diagnose cases
  • Comprehensive balance testing of all 6 vestibular canals and all 10 end organs of the inner ear vestibular system. Personalized results evaluation
  • Customized dizziness and balance treatment programs

Our full-service practice also provides audiological evaluation services and hearing loss solutions for adults, teens and children.

Dizziness

Dizziness, a term used to describe any feeling of unsteadiness. Dizziness is one of the leading health complaints in the United States, affecting an estimated nine million people annually. For those over the age of 70 it’s the top reason for a visit to the doctor’s office.  Dizziness is one of the most difficult complaints to assess because it is a subjective sensation that cannot be directly and objectively measured.  Dizziness frequently represents many separate overlapping sensations that can be caused by a multitude of different pathophysiologic processes.  Dizziness also is one of the most common patient complaints seen in ambulatory care today and therefore clinicians in almost all disciplines will be faced with evaluating this difficult problem.   Evaluation and treatment of patients with dizziness will differ significantly once the category of dizziness has been determined.  It is imperative that clinicians take a careful history to determine the type of dizziness prior to initiating further workup.  These patients are typically challenging from a diagnostic standpoint.  Their own difficulty in providing a clear and succinct history adds to this challenge.  It is helpful to have a solid understanding of the various types of dizziness in order to help obtain an informative history from patients.

What Are the Causes of Dizziness?  

Dizziness is the result of your brain receiving false signals from the balance system (comprised of the inner ear, eyes, and sensory nerves). It senses movement and overcompensates, leading to a spinning sensation, weakness, and faintness.

There are many possible causes of dizziness including low blood pressure, anemia, dehydration, heat-related disorders, endocrine system disorders (e.g., diabetes, thyroid disease), heart conditions, high blood pressure, viral and bacterial infections, head trauma, hyperventilation, neurological disorders, and certain medications.

Several balance disorders are commonly associated with dizziness and/or vertigo.  Some of those include:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) involves brief but intense periods of vertigo that are triggered by specific changes in head position. It occurs when tiny crystals in the otolith organs become dislodged and migrate to the semicircular canals.
  • Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition that causes vertigo, tinnitus, fullness in the ear and fluctuating hearing loss that may eventually become permanent. Meniere’s is usually confined to one ear and though its cause is unknown it may be the result of abnormal fluid buildup in the inner ear.
  • Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear usually caused by an infection. Its symptoms include vertigo, temporary hearing loss and tinnitus.

What Symptoms Are Associated with Dizziness?

Patients who experience dizziness report a variety of symptoms depending on the exact nature of their balance disorder. These include:

  • Lightheadedness.
  • Fainting.
  • Unsteadiness.
  • Weakness.
  • Vertigo (the sensation of movement in your surroundings).
  • Confusion.
  • Disorientation.
  • Blurred vision.

How Is Dizziness Treated?

Treatment for dizziness takes many forms, depending on the cause. Your doctor will try to target the underlying condition in order to reduce or eliminate the symptoms.

Options can include repositioning exercises, vestibular retraining programs, medications (antihistamines, sedatives, antibiotics, steroids), physical or occupational therapy, surgery, and lifestyle modifications such as dietary changes.

Call Texas Professional Hearing Center, INC at 281-420-8033 for more information or to schedule an appointment with our Neurodiagnostic Vestibular Specialist.

 True Vertigo Versus Other Types of Dizziness

While the description alone cannot make this important distinction between vertigo and other forms of dizziness, there are certain terms that are frequently associated with the description of different forms of dizziness.  A vestibular disorder is almost always described as a sensation of spinning and is accompanied by nystagmus that patients may report as a feeling that their eyes were rapidly snapping or jerking to and fro.  This will relate to a sensation that the environment around them is moving.  Patients with nonvestibular dizziness may describe a spinning sensation inside the head; they do not have nystagmus and thus do not report movement of the environment.  Those patients with vestibular dysfunction may equate the feeling to a sensation of having motion sickness and describe feelings of imbalance, as though they were falling or leaning to one side.  Those patients describing their symptoms with terms such as “lightheaded . . . swimming . . . giddiness . . . floating” most often have a nonvestibular etiology for their dizziness.  Psychophysiologic dizziness is suggested by a description of a feeling that they have left their body.  True vertigo is an episodic phenomenon compared to nonvestibular dizziness that is often described as a continuous symptom.

Ear Anatomy

Vertigo is often aggravated by head movements, while nonvestibular dizziness can be aggravated by movement of targets in the visual field. This is often obvious in patients who complain of dizziness stimulated by specific situations such as driving in traffic or shopping in a busy supermarket. In cases where the dizziness is primarily related to positional changes, and postural hypotension has been ruled out, a vestibular lesion should be suspected. The association of symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting or auditory or neurologic symptoms, is more likely to be seen with vestibular causes of dizziness.

Differentiating Among Common Causes of Vertigo

Typically, peripheral vertigo is more severe than central forms and is more likely to be associated with auditory symptoms (e.g., tinnitus, hearing loss), as well as nausea and vomiting.  Other neurologic symptoms are generally associated with vertigo of central origin.  Such symptoms might include diplopia, weakness, numbness, or incoordination.

One of the original points mentioned was the importance of determining the basic characteristics of the patient’s dizziness, including the length of time that the episodes last.  Such information is now even more helpful in leading the clinician to a diagnosis.  Episodes of dizziness lasting only seconds in duration are suggestive of benign positional vertigo.  This is often preceded by an initial period or episode with complaints of a nonspecific sense of disorientation and imbalance associated with nausea and vomiting that may last for hours or days.  When describing more recent recurrent attacks, the patient clearly can separate out brief (seconds) episodes of positional vertigo.  A vertiginous episode beginning abruptly and lasting minutes in duration is more characteristic of a vascular etiology, such as vertebrobasilar insufficiency or migraines.

Balance Disorders

A balance disorder is a condition with symptoms of feeling unsteady or dizzy. Even while standing, lying, or sitting still, a person with a balance disorder will feel as if they are moving, spinning or floating. While walking, people may feel as if they are tipping over.

Primary symptoms include dizziness or a spinning sensation (vertigo), falling or feeling as if you are going to fall, lightheadedness, faintness, a floating sensation, blurred vision, confusion, or disorientation. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, fear and anxiety or panic attacks.

These disorders can be caused by anything that affects the inner ear or the brain such as medications, ear infections or head injuries. The risk for balance disorders increases as people get older.

What Are the Most Common Balance Disorders?

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) involves brief but intense periods of vertigo that are triggered by specific changes in head position. It occurs when tiny crystals in the otolith organs become dislodged and migrate to the semicircular canals.
  • Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition that causes vertigo, tinnitus, fullness in the ear and fluctuating hearing loss that may eventually become permanent. Meniere’s is usually confined to one ear and though its cause is unknown it may be the result of abnormal fluid buildup in the inner ear.
  • Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear usually caused by an infection. Its symptoms include vertigo, temporary hearing loss and tinnitus.

How Are Balance Disorders Treated?

In order to determine the appropriate treatment plan for you, your audiologist will need to evaluate and diagnose your symptoms.  Once determined, your audiologist will target the underlying condition in order to reduce or eliminate the symptoms. Options include:

  • Repositioning exercises.
  • Vestibular retraining programs.
  • Physical or occupational therapy.
  • Medications (antihistamines, sedatives, antibiotics, or steroids).
  • Surgery.
  • Lifestyle modifications

Call Texas Professional Hearing Center, Inc. at 281-420-8033 for more information or to schedule an appointment with our Neuro-diagnostic Vestibular Specialist.