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Vestibular Disorders

Vestibular Disorders - An Overview

Our ears are a very complex system consisting of bone and cartilage. The organ is a network of channels called semicircular canals. Fluid fills the canals. The fluid changes the movement.

A sensor in the ear sends the notification to the brain to add to the sense of balance. These intricate organs and other delicate pieces make up the vestibular system. Vestibular disorders affect the vestibular system, which includes the parts of the inner ear and your brain. The link between your inner ear and brain helps you maintain your balance when walking around. The system is your vestibular system. One suffers from the vestibular disorder if an injury or disease affects the system. Dizziness, vertigo, and problems with balance are the most common symptoms, which can also damage your vision and hearing strength. Balance disorders can affect at any age, but mainly the problem affects one in old age. 


Reasons for Vestibular Balance Disorders 

The common reasons for vestibular balance disorders are,

  • BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo)
  • Infections
  • Ear problems, such as poor circulation 
  • Medicines
  • Calcium debris in your semicircular canals 
  • Traumatic brain injury

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The vestibular disorder affects the brain and inner ear. The primary reasons causing the condition are medicines, infections, internal ear problems, calcium deficiency, brain injury, and related issues.

The vestibular disorder affects your brain system. The common symptoms of a vestibular balance disorder are lack of balance, dizziness, head spinning, blurred vision, stumbling, etc.

Consult a medical professional immediately after you sense the symptoms. A proper treatment process on time can reduce your risk of falling, improve balance, boost body strength, stabilize your vision, and reduce your dizziness.

Common Vestibular Disorders

1.Vestibular Neutritis

A viral infection in your body, such as chickenpox or measles, can cause this disorder that affects the nerve. The nerves send sound and balance information from your ear to the brain. The most common symptoms include sudden dizziness with nausea and trouble walking. The doctor prescribes medicine to eliminate the virus that causes the disease. 


Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection. The infection happens when a fragile structure deep inside your ear suffers inflammation. It adversely affects not only your balance and hearing but also ear pain, pressure, fluid or pus coming from the ear, high fever, and nausea. If the labyrinthitis results from bacterial infection, one must take antibiotics. Steroids help you bring down inflammation, and antiemetics reduces nausea and dizziness. 

3.Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV is one of the most typical causes resulting in positional vertigo. The patient feels a sudden spinning or swaying within the head. The disease occurs when the tiny calcium crystals in your ear move into a place where they should not be. The status signals your brain that you are moving even when you are not. The proper treatment can put the crystals back where they should be. 

4.Meniere’s Disease 

One with Meniere’s disease suffers from sudden vertigo attacks, loss of hearing, tinnitus, and an odd feeling of fullness in the affected ear. It happens due to the presence of much fluid in the inner ear, allergy, or a viral or autoimmune reaction. The hearing loss worsens over time, and it can sometimes become permanent. A few lifestyle changes include reducing salt, alcohol, and caffeine from daily food habits. The right medication can ease the impact of the attacks. In rare cases, patients might need surgery to eliminate the symptoms. Doctors cut or remove the affected inner ear part at the critical stages so the nerves cannot send the wrong balance signals to the brain.  

5.Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic neuroma refers to a tumor in the inner ear that grows slowly. The tumor is not cancerous but can affect the nerves that stimulate your hearing and balance. It results in ringing in your ear and a feeling of dizziness. The neuroma can press against your facial nerve and causes numbness at the side of your face. Doctors can recommend two treatment methods – surgery and radiation. A successful surgery helps remove the neuroma, or the doctor can treat the tumor with radiation to stop further growth. 

6.Perilymphatic Fistula (PLF)

PLF refers to a tear between your middle ear and fluid-filled inner ear that makes you feel nauseous and dizzy, resulting in hearing loss. One can be born with PLF, or factors like head injury, barotrauma, or heavy lifting can result in a perilymphatic fistula. Operations can help in removing perilymph fistulas. Doctors can plug tears from the outer ear into the damaged area. 


Some medicines, drugs, and chemicals can damage your inner ear. They can attack the nerve connecting your inner ear to your brain. It might lead to hearing loss in extreme cases. The problem usually resolves when one stops taking that particular drug or stays away from the chemical, and the situation improves. In other cases, the damage might become permanent. 

8.Enlarged Vestibular Aqueducts (EVA)

EVA refers to the narrow, bony canals that cover your inner ear and the inside of your skull. The canals are vestibular aqueducts. One may lose hearing strength if the canals get larger than they should be. The reasons are not clear, but the ailment can be genetic. There is no verified treatment method for EVA. One of the best treatment methods to recover your hearing is to avoid sports or any activity that can lead to head injuries.  

9.Vestibular Migraine

If your brain sends the wrong signals to your balance system, it can lead to severe headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light or sound, loss of hearing, and ringing in your ears. Some people have also claimed to have blurred vision. If you have vestibular migraines, your doctor will give your drugs. Medicines, including some antidepressants and calcium channel blockers. 

10.Mal de Debarquement

When yu move in a different way for a long time, like on a boat, the brain adapts to the feeling. Sometimes, the brain is stuck in the new motion, and you might feel off balance even after the movement stops. It gets better in a few hours, but sometimes, the symptoms stay for weeks, months, or even years. One might experience symptoms such as staggering walking, feeling fatigued, and trouble focusing. Medications and vestibular rehabilitation can cure the symptoms.  

Treatment of Vestibular Disorders 

Treatment methods are dependent on the cause of your balance disorder, including

1.Treatment of the Underlying Causes

The patient might need antibiotics or antifungal treatments to cure the ear infection, the main reason behind the balance disorder.

2.Changes in Lifestyle

You may ease some symptoms with changes in diet and activity, including quitting smoking and drinking. 

3.Specialized Treatment 

Specialized head and chest treatment repose the particles in your semicircular canals into a position where the factors don’t trigger symptoms. 


You might need surgery when medicines and other treatment methods cannot control your symptoms. The operational procedure depends on the core causes of the disorder. It stabilizes the inner ear function. 


You need vestibular rehab therapy if you struggle with vestibular balance disorders. The treatment helps you move slowly and safely. The rehab specialist enables you to learn how to cope with the dizziness you feel. You might follow some safe strategies and make adjustments while performing your daily activities. 

When to Call A Healthcare Provider?

If you feel lightheadedness and dizziness frequently and damage your quality of daily life, it is time to consult your healthcare provider to treat vestibular disorders. Medical experts at Stark Rehab are adept at treating neurological issues and helping patients recover from nervous ailments. 


Kristin Hallberg

Kristin Hallberg is a Florida board and Swedish health authority certified Physical Therapist. She earned her Physical Therapy license from Uppsala University, Sweden, in 2013. After moving to Florida she also earned her Florida board license in 2016. Kristin has a particular interest in orthopedic and sports medicine. She has 10 years experience of treating a variety of injuries and post surgery recovery for low back, knees, shoulders, neck, hips, and feet.

Previously, Kristin was a track and field athlete and continued with coaching at Uppsala Track and Field High school when injuries stopped her fromcontinuing to pursuit her own journey. During this time she also sought out new experiences and pursuit taking skydiving license and open water diving certificate. She enjoys the outdoors and grew upskiing and hiking. Seeking new adventures has always been a part of her life and relates to the importancefor people to stay active with the lifestyle that makes them happy.

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