What is dizziness?
A sensation of turning round or whirling, swaying sensation, faintness, or a feeling of weakness, light-headedness or unsteadiness, sometimes blurred vision, not recognizing things as normal, blackouts, faints, or sometimes epileptic fits. All these are sometimes referred to as 'dizzy spells'.
What causes dizziness and who is at risk?
There are many causes of dizziness. Conditions that affect the inner ear may cause this symptom, because this is where the organ of balance -or the labyrinth- is situated. More rarely, conditions that affect the brain can also lead to dizziness. Abnormalities of heart rhythm or falls in blood pressure when standing up may cause the sensation of light-headedness. The most common conditions to affect the inner ear and cause dizziness include 'benign positional vertigo' and 'vestibular neuronitis', which is also known as 'viral labyrinthitis' or Meniere's disease, and may result from the labyrinth having a viral infection.
Common symptoms and complications of dizziness:
The exact symptoms depend on the actual cause of the dizziness. Patients who have Meniere's disease describe recurrent, severe attacks of rotational dizziness (the feeling of whirling), known as 'vertigo', and deafness and ringing in the ears. These attacks come on suddenly and can last for minutes to an hour or longer. They are usually so severe that the person may have nausea and vomiting, and cannot stand or walk. There may also be a feeling of fullness and pressure in the ear. The attacks m are random at time and may occur three or more times a week for many weeks, or they may go away on their own.
Another problem of the inner ear is called benign positional vertigo. When the person's head is moved into specific positions, rotational dizziness episodes are triggered w. It usually occurs when lying down in bed or when the head is tilted backwards. A sudden turn of the person's head has been known to trigger vertigo for a few seconds.
Viral labyrinthitis- a condition that is often preceded by a cold or flu-like illness when a sensation of being top heavy or off balance may be felt. Sudden severe vertigo, nausea, vomiting and the need to remain still usually follow. Symptoms often last for hours, and sometimes even last for several days. The theory of a viral infection of the labyrinth is among explanations of this condition.