Everyone knows your ears are for hearing. But did you know they play an important part in balance, too? In fact, ear problems are a major cause of dizziness and balance problems, especially as you get older.
Of course, your ears aren’t the only possible cause of dizziness, and finding out what’s causing your symptoms is the first step in getting the right treatment. At ENT Specialists, our team performs an in-depth exam and evaluation aimed at diagnosing the cause of dizziness, so you can manage your symptoms and prevent more serious problems in the future.
If you’re feeling dizzy, here’s how your ears could be involved — along with a quick review of other possible causes.
Dizziness and your ears
Data show that in the United States, as many as 15% of the population — more than 34 million adults — suffers from dizziness every year. In many of those people, inner ear issues are a primary cause.
Your ears are part of your vestibular system, the system that’s responsible for your natural sense of balance. Canals inside your ears contain tiny “hair cells” capable of detecting three types of motion: side-to-side, up-and-down, and tilting. Together, these cells help you maintain balance and determine where your body is in relation to its surroundings.
As you age, some of the hair cells die or stop working. You can also develop problems with the acoustic nerve, the primary nerve that carries signals from the hair cells to your brain. Issues with the ear canals can also play a role in balance and dizziness problems.
Meniere’s disease is another ear-related cause of dizziness. This disease causes fluid buildup inside your inner ear, interfering with your balance system. If you have Meniere’s disease, you may have other symptoms, like ringing in your ears or a sensation of fullness inside your ear.
Other causes of dizziness
Not all dizziness is caused by problems with your inner ear. Other possible causes include:
- Certain medications
- Head injury
- Circulatory or nervous system problems
- Changes in your vision
- Low blood sugar
- Dehydration or overheating
Some of these issues can have a direct or indirect impact on your vestibular system, while others can cause dizziness in different ways.
Except for allergies and mild infections, all these different causes have one big thing in common: They all require medical care to resolve them and relieve dizziness symptoms.
Early diagnosis of the cause of dizziness is important for two main reasons: first, to help you feel better; and second, to determine if your symptoms are caused by a serious underlying problem, like high blood pressure or even cancer, so that cause can be treated as well.
Don’t ignore dizziness
Because dizziness is common, many people are tempted to ignore it and “learn to live with it.” But while many causes of dizziness are benign, some causes can be serious and even life-threatening.
If you’re having dizziness — even mild symptoms — our team can help. To schedule your exam and evaluation at our offices in Salt Lake City, Murray, Draper, Tooele, and West Jordan, Utah, call or book a visit online today.