((Page 1 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness. Dizziness

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1 ((Page 1 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness Dizziness

2 ((Page 2 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness Dizziness is a common complaint. Each year, more than 2 million people come to the doctor s office stating, I feel dizzy. Four out of ten people in the United States will consult their physicians about dizziness at some time in their lives. This brochure describes dizziness and the mechanism of balance. There is space on the last page to write any questions you have and, if you wish, a description of your symptoms. How your body maintains balance Maintaining balance requires a complex networking of several different parts of your body. To maintain balance (or your desired body position while sitting or standing), your brain must coordinate a constant flow of information from your eyes, muscles and tendons, and inner ear. All of these parts of the body work together to help keep you upright and provide you with a sense of stability when you are moving. Many problems with dizziness and balance are caused by problems within your inner ear. However, problems in any part of the system that controls your balance can cause dizziness and imbalance (See Figure 1). 1

3 ((Page 3 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness A. The inner ear contains our primary hearing structure (the cochlea) and our primary balance structure (the vestibular labyrinth). B. The brain relays information to and from the eyes, skin, joints and muscles to the vestibular labyrinth (within the inner ear). C. The eyes record the body s position and surroundings. D. When we touch things, sensors in our skin give us information about our environment. Figure 1 E. Muscles and joints report bodily movement to the brain. 2

4 ((Page 4 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness Describing your dizziness Your healthcare team will probably ask you to describe your symptoms. Unfortunately, the word dizziness is often used to describe a variety of different sensations. Your specific description of your problem can help in both the diagnosis and treatment. The following descriptions may help you identify your sensations so you can more clearly describe your symptoms. Vertigo is the sensation that you or your surroundings are rotating. You may feel that the room is spinning or slowly rotating. Or, you may sense the rotation within your own head or body. Imbalance is the sensation that you must touch something to maintain your balance. Or, imbalance may be more severe, making it difficult to stand without falling. Other types of dizziness include feelings of being lightheaded or woozy and the sensations of floating or near fainting. 3

5 ((Page 5 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness Your physician may also ask you other questions such as: Are you dizzy all the time or does it come and go? Does your dizziness happen at certain times of the day or with certain activities? Do certain head or body positions make you feel more or less dizzy? Does stress or lack of eating play a role? Diagnosing the problem Because problems of dizziness and balance can have many different causes, making a diagnosis usually requires a complete history and several tests. Your physical examination will include a check of your eyes, ears and reflexes. You will be given more information about the specific tests of balance function when your physician orders them. 4

6 ((Page 6 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness Summary Maintaining balance requires coordination of several parts of your body. Problems with any one of these parts can cause dizziness and imbalance. Accurate diagnosis requires thorough evaluation by your physician and possible further testing by a specialist or an audiologist. You can help your physician make a diagnosis by describing your symptoms clearly. 5

7 ((Page 7 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness Notes 6

8 ((Page 8 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness Notes 7

9 ((Page 9 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness Notes 8

10 ((Page 10 of 10 MC1607/R1194 Dizziness Mayo Press 200 First Street SW Rochester, Minnesota , Mayo Press MAYO, MAYO CLINIC and the Mayo triple-shield logo are registered marks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. MC1607/R1194

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