That awful spinning sensation of dizziness can have many causes, including problems with the inner ear. “Your sense of balance relies on a series of signals to your brain from several organs and structures in your body, specifically your eyes, ears, and the muscles and touch sensors in your legs.
“The part of the ear that assists in balance is the vestibular system, or the labyrinth, a maze-like structure in your inner ear and made of bone and soft tissue,” explains the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
There are fluid-filled ducts inside this labyrinth, which tell the brain when the head rotates. Other tiny sail-like structures billow and result in nerve signals, feeding the brain even more information. Other structures and signals work together to keep us upright and hearing well. However, signals can malfunction, resulting in dizziness, vertigo, or balance problems that raise the risk of falling.
Ear specialists may diagnose labyrinthitis, an infection or inflammation of the inner ear that causes dizziness and loss of balance. The NIH adds that it’s often associated with an upper respiratory infection, such as the flu.
Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuronitis, and other ear maladies may contribute to dizziness. The NIH advises sufferers to consult their primary care doctor, who may recommend seeing an ear specialist -- such as an ear, nose, and throat doctor -- also called an otolaryngologist or ENT.
Audiologist Dr. Susan Rogan, with offices in Westmont and LaGrange Park, agrees, explaining that treatment options would seek to restore a patient’s balance and alleviate dizziness. The NIH adds that in some cases when dizziness can’t be fully relieved, medications and coping strategies may be available.