Dizziness is described as feeling unsteady or having a sensation of whirling, or some kind of movement when actually there is none. It can either be a one-time thing, a common occurrence that is temporary, or a serious condition.
Dizziness is further characterized into types depending on the causative agent, with the most common type termed vertigo.
As we know, the inner ear controls our sense of balance and homeostasis. A problem, such as an infection in the inner ear, leads to a feeling of imbalance and spells of dizziness, known as vertigo. The condition—vertigo—can be caused due to:
- disorders or problems in the central nervous system
- inner ear problems
3 major causes of dizziness due to ear problems
- Labyrinthitis, also known as vestibular neuritis, is a disorder in which the inner ear is inflamed. This leads to episodes of dizziness and can sometimes even cause loss of hearing. Vertigo caused by such an ear infection is usually due to a virus or bacteria, such as Epstein-Barr virus, rubella, mumps, measles, influenza, hepatitis, polio, and herpes virus. Symptoms of dizziness along with other symptoms last as long as the inner ear is inflamed.
- Infections that lead to cough and common cold also cause infection of the inner ear, thereby leading to temporary spells of vertigo and dizziness. This infection of the ear is usually viral and is harmless, subsiding within six weeks.
- Another cause of vertigo and dizziness is Meniere’s disease. The disease is characterized by three typical symptoms and signs:
- A ringing sensation in the ear, referred to as tinnitus;
- Vertigo or dizziness, and loss of hearing. Those suffering from this disease experience fluctuating episodes of being free of symptoms and bouts of hearing loss and severe dizziness. These symptoms can occur abruptly and just as abruptly go away;
- The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown but it is thought to be caused by infections present in the inner ear as well as allergies, injury to the head, and hereditary factors.
Other causes of dizziness related to the ear
Another form of vertigo, namely acoustic neuroma, is not commonly seen. Its symptoms include loss of hearing, ringing on one side of the ear, and dizziness. This form of dizziness is caused by a tumor forming in the inner ear’s nerve tissue.
BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) is when the patient experiences a sensation that the head is turning when in reality it is not. This is caused by a sand grain-sized calcium particle, called an otolith, moving from the gravity-sensing part of the ear to the part that aids in sensing the position of the head. This condition can be corrected by the Epley maneuver, which lasts for two minutes and can be done in the doctor’s office.
Experiencing a bouncing feeling where everything seems to go up and down is another form of dizziness termed Dandy’s syndrome. This type of vertigo is caused due to having antibiotic medication that has toxic side effects on the ear. Over time the condition improves.