The most frequently reported symptoms of vestibular disorders
are dizziness, unsteadiness or imbalance when walking, vertigo,
and nausea. These symptoms may be quite mild, lasting minutes,
or quite severe, resulting in total disability.
the vestibular system interacts with many other parts of
the nervous system, symptoms may also be experienced as
problems with vision, muscles, and thinking, and memory.
people with vestibular disorders may suffer headache and
muscular aches in the neck and back, increased tendency
to suffer from motion sickness, and increased sensitivity
to noise and bright lights. Patients with vestibular disorders
often report fatigue and loss of stamina and an inability
to concentrate. Difficulty with reading and speech may occur
during times of fatigue. When these symptoms are constant
and disabling, they may be accompanied by irritability,
loss of self-esteem, and/or depression.
In those cases where a cause can be determined, head trauma
is a frequent cause of vestibular disorders in people under
infections such as otitis media and inflammation of the
inner ear (labyrinthitis) may also cause damage to the vestibular
and hearing structures of the inner ear.
may cause some vestibular disorders.
doses or long-term use of certain antibiotics can also cause
permanent damage to the inner ear. Other drugs, such as
aspirin, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, sedatives, and tranquillisers,
as well as many illegal drugs, can cause temporary dizziness
but do not result in permanent damage to the vestibular
flow of blood to the inner ear or the brain is reduced or
blocked (as in the case of a stroke), damage to the vestibular
system can result.
a slow-growing tumor on the nerve that leads from the inner
ear to the brain (an acoustic neuroma) may interfere with
the normal function of the vestibular system.
Tests developed since 1984 enable physicians to diagnose
some vestibular disorders that previously could not be documented.
Modern diagnostic techniques for vestibular disorders rely
on a combination of tests and a careful history of the problem.
a complete physical examination to rule out other causes
of dizziness such as cardiovascular or central nervous system
disorders must be done.
the patient will be referred to a specialist (an otolaryngologist
or neuro-otologist or oto-neurologist) for vestibular testing.
the vestibular system is in close proximity to the hearing
apparatus, vestibular testing includes hearing tests.
movements often hold clues to vestibular dysfunction. To
record eye movements, physicians use a technique called
is an essential component of vestibular functioning. During
balance testing, patients may be asked to stand on special
platforms that record the movement of the body. This kind
of testing is called moving platform posturography.
In mild cases, the symptoms may go away on their own as
the vestibular apparatus heals or the nervous system learns
to compensate for the disorder.
symptoms persist, some patients can be cured completely.
In other persistent cases, the symptoms can only be controlled
and not eliminated entirely.
may consist of drugs, diets, physical therapy, or in severe
Although most vestibular disorders are treatable, some people
with the disorders find they are temporarily or permanently
unable to work or carry on normal activities.
Security disability as well as many employee disability
plans cover chronic, severe disability caused by vestibular
disability payments can be received only if physicians attest
to the disabling effects of the disorder.
of medical exams and physician visits will help in determining
the existence of a disability. Patients will often be asked
to see specific physicians for examinations. Persistence
and attentiveness to fulfilling all the official requirements
often useful to have a care giver, social worker, or friend
help with the record-keeping and paperwork.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004