Dizziness

What Will the Physician Do for My Dizziness?

The doctor will ask you to describe your dizziness, whether it is light headedness or a sensation of motion, how long and how often the dizziness has troubled you, how long a dizzy episode lasts, and whether it is associated with hearing loss or nausea and vomiting. You might be asked for circumstances that might bring on a dizzy spell. You will need to answer questions about your general health, any medicines, you are taking, head injuries, recent infections, and other questions about your ear and neurological system.

Your physician will examine your ears, nose, and throat and do tests of nerve and balance function. Because the inner ear controls both balance and hearing, disorders of balance often affect hearing and vice versa. Therefore, your physician will probably recommend hearing tests (audiograms). The physician might order skull X rays, a CT or MRI scan of your head, or special tests of eye motion after warm or cold water is used to stimulate the inner ear (ENG – electronystagmography). In some cases, blood tests or a cardiology (heart) evaluation might be recommended.

Not every patient will require every test. The physician’s judgment will be based on each particular patient. Similarly, the treatments recommended by your physician will depend on the diagnosis.

What Can I Do to Reduce Dizziness?

  • Avoid rapid changes in position, especially from lying down to standing up or turning around from one side to the other
  • Avoid extremes of head motion (especially looking up) or rapid head motion (especially turning or twisting)
  • Eliminate or decrease use of products that impair circulation, e.g. nicotine, caffeine, and salt
  • Minimize your exposure to circumstances that precipitate your dizziness, such as stress and anxiety or substances to which you are allergic
  • Avoid hazardous activities when you are dizzy, such as driving an automobile or operating dangerous equipment, or climbing a step ladder, etc

What Can I Do for Motion Sickness?

Always ride where your eyes will see the same motion that your body and inner ears feel, e.g. sit in the front seat of the car and look at the distant scenery; go up on the deck of the ship and watch the horizon; sit by the window of the airplane and look outside. In an airplane choose a seat over the wings where the motion is the least.

  • Do not read while traveling if you are subject to motion sickness, and do not sit in a seat facing backward
  • Do not watch or talk to another traveler who is having motion sickness
  • Avoid strong odors and spicy or greasy foods immediately before and during your travel. Medical research has not yet investigated the effectiveness of popular folk remedies such as soda crackers and & Seven Up® or cola syrup over ice
  • Take one of the varieties of motion sickness medicines before your travel begins, as recommended by your physician

Some of these medications can be purchased without a prescription (i.e., Dramamine®, Bonine®, Marezine®, etc.) Stronger medicines such as tranquilizers and nervous system depressants will require a prescription from your physician. Some are used in pill or suppository form.

Remember: Most cases of dizziness and motion sickness are mild and self-treatable disorders. But, severe cases and those that become progressively worse, deserve the attention of a physician with specialized skills in diseases of the ear, nose, throat, equilibrium, and neurological systems.