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     Volume 4 Issue 19 | October 29, 2004 |

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Dizzy Daisy Dizziness

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.

Because 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.

In addition, 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 age 50.

Ear 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.

Viruses may cause some vestibular disorders.

High 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 system.

If the 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.

Rarely, 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.

First, a complete physical examination to rule out other causes of dizziness such as cardiovascular or central nervous system disorders must be done.

Then, the patient will be referred to a specialist (an otolaryngologist or neuro-otologist or oto-neurologist) for vestibular testing.

Because the vestibular system is in close proximity to the hearing apparatus, vestibular testing includes hearing tests.

Eye movements often hold clues to vestibular dysfunction. To record eye movements, physicians use a technique called electronystagmography (ENG).

Balance 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.

Where symptoms persist, some patients can be cured completely. In other persistent cases, the symptoms can only be controlled and not eliminated entirely.

Treatments may consist of drugs, diets, physical therapy, or in severe cases, surgery.

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.

Social Security disability as well as many employee disability plans cover chronic, severe disability caused by vestibular disorders.

Such disability payments can be received only if physicians attest to the disabling effects of the disorder.

Records 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 is important.

It is often useful to have a care giver, social worker, or friend help with the record-keeping and paperwork.

Source: www.canine-epilepsy.com


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