Vertigo / Dizziness / Menieres
It is important to diagnose the cause of vertigo, or dizziness, as quickly as possible because it can be caused by some very serious conditions. To rule out serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, hemorrhage, or tumor diagnosis should include clinical history, physical and neurological examination.
The symptom dizziness is the second most common complaint heard in doctors’ offices (after lower back pain). Dizziness has many causes other than inner ear dysfunction. To investigate how vertigo is caused, let’s look at how balance is controlled.
1. Your Eyes – Your body has a visual “righting reflex” which orients your body to the horizon. Your brain is constantly assessing (via visual information) what it needs to do to orient itself horizontal to the horizon.
2. Your Ears – Your ears contain tiny vestibular (or balance) organs. They function through the use of fluid. Think about a two-liter bottle that is only half full of water. When you turn this upside down (with the cap on, of course!) the fluid doesn’t remain at the bottom of the bottle… it falls to the top responding to gravity’s pull. This is the same mechanism at work in your ears.
3. Your Nerves – Aside from the nerve’s job of properly transmitting information for the eyes and ears, it also makes up the brain stem. The brain stem is by far the most important balance mechanism because it controls and coordinates all of the position information your body produces.
Every muscle, joint and ligament in your body is equipped with “position sensors”. The brain stem then coordinates the information with all the other muscles, joints and ligaments and tells your muscles what to do… all in a fraction of a second!