The inner ear is responsible for much of our balance and sense of space, but it’s also very delicate and sensitive. Pressure, inflammation, and even calcium crystals can all interfere with your stability, leading to episodes of vertigo. This spinning sensation is not only uncomfortable, but dangerous as well, especially in older patients who are at higher risk for a fall.
The ear, nose, and throat specialists at ENT of New Orleans, with offices in Chalmette, Harvey, New Orleans, and Marrero, Louisiana, can help by accurately diagnosing your vertigo as well as what’s causing it, and offering appropriate treatment to relieve your symptoms.
Reasons to suspect vertigo
Vertigo is a very distinct sensation. The room will often seem to spin around you, and this perception might worsen as you move your head. Sensations of being tilted or pulled to one direction are common as well. The feelings may be triggered by sudden movement of the head, such as sitting up in the morning.
The dizziness and balance issues aren’t all you may be dealing with. Vertigo often presents with additional symptoms, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trouble keeping your balance
- Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus)
- Hearing loss or tinnitus
- Feelings of fullness in the ear(s)
Your specific combination of symptoms can help narrow down what’s causing your vertigo. Make sure to mention any and all recent health issues to your doctor, as well as medication changes or trauma to your head.
Diagnosing what is causing your vertigo
At ENT of New Orleans, Dr. Pippin and Dr. Fatakia have years of experience dealing with vertigo in patients of all ages, and can determine why your vertigo has manifested.
Vertigo can be caused by a number of inner ear issues, the most common being labyrinthitis, Meniere’s disease, and a condition known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
Labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis
When the inner workings of your ear become swollen, it can lead to issues with your sense of balance. Both the labyrinth and the vestibular nerve can become inflamed due to infection, leading to vertigo.
There are several tests we can do to help confirm a labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis diagnosis:
- An imaging test (MRI) to rule out neurological problems
- An EKG to check for potential heart issues that might be the cause of vertigo
- Eye movement tests to pinpoint issues with your vestibular system
We also do a hearing test, as labyrinthitis often causes temporary hearing loss.
Caused by fluid buildup in the inner ear, Meniere’s disease can lead to vertigo and many of its accompanying symptoms. We diagnose Meniere's disease with a battery of vestibular tests to see how you respond to changes in your position as well as altered sensory input delivered to your eyes, ears, and whole body.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a type of peripheral vertigo caused by tiny calcium crystals known as canaliths. Doctors speculate that these shift around within the inner ear, misdirecting your sense of balance and leading to vertigo.
BPPV can typically be diagnosed using the Dix-Hallpike test, during which we turn your head 45 degrees, then help you lie back quickly on the table with your head hanging off of the end to see if this triggers a vertigo episode.
Some people suffer from central vertigo, which is caused by the brain, not the inner ear. If you’ve recently suffered a brain injury or stroke, your vertigo might be linked to a neurological problem, which may mean you’ll need to see a neurologist to pinpoint the issue. If indicated, we’ll do an MRI to confirm this suspicion.
For most people, vertigo can be completely resolved. For others, slight lifestyle changes may be required to accommodate occasional bouts of vertigo and keep you safe.
To learn more about vertigo and begin the diagnostic process, schedule a consultation by calling the location closest to you, or request an appointment online.