Balance is often taken for granted, but it can be tiring and dangerous when balance is impaired. Balance helps humans see clearly while moving, identify orientation, determine direction and speed of movement, and make posture adjustments for different conditions and activities. It is controlled by vision, touch and the vestibular system.
The vestibular system is a sensory system in the inner ear that provides sense of balance and spatial orientation for coordinating movement with balance. Fluid movement within the inner ear is responsible for maintaining balance by sending signals to the brain. When the vestibular system is not functioning properly, patients will experience balance problems such as vertigo or dizziness.
Vestibular neuronitis, also called labrynthitis, is inflammation of the inner ear or nerves that connect the inner ear to the brain. It can be difficult to diagnose because it shares many symptoms with other vestibular disorders. Labrynthitis causes vertigo and possible hearing loss or ringing in the ears. Though this condition usually goes away on its own, there are medications that can help manage symptoms.
Evaluation by an ENT specialist, including balance testing, may be required to find the cause of a balance problem. Tests that focus on the vestibular system are videoystagmography (VNG), rotation tests, video head impulse testing (VHIT) and vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP).
Signs there is a problem with the vestibular system are vertigo, dizziness, imbalance, spatial disorientation, vision problems, hearing problems and cognitive problems. If you or someone you care for is experiencing vestibular disorder symptoms, please contact our North Sioux City office at (605) 217-4327 to schedule an appointment.