October is National Audiology Awareness Month. You may be surprised to learn that your Louisville audiologist does more than stick a lighted scope inside a patient’s ears. Audiologists are responsible for the diagnosis, management, and treatment of not only hearing loss and tinnitus, but disorders of the balance system, as well. If you’re one of the 15 percent of Kentuckians who experiences dizziness this year, your first stop may very well be a visit to an audiologist’s office.
What Causes Dizziness…and Should I Be Concerned?
Practically everybody experiences episodes of dizziness on occasion. Most of the time it’s nothing to worry about, but frequent bouts of dizziness demand the attention of an audiologist, who can help rule out any serious medical conditions that might be responsible.
Dizziness in Louisville, and across the U.S., is common – especially as we age. It affects about two out of five elderly individuals, and is particularly dangerous for senior citizens, increasing their risk of a fall – the most common initial factor leading to death in people aged 80 or older.
We use the term “dizziness” to refer to any sensation of unsteadiness or imbalance. When the brain senses movement that isn’t actually occurring, it overcompensates, leading dizziness and a variety of other symptoms, including:
- Vertigo (a sensation of spinning or other movement)
- Blurry vision
If symptoms such as vomiting, double vision, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, back pain, neck stiffness, difficulty walking, or trouble using your arms or legs accompany your dizziness, prompt medical attention is required as these can be very serious.
Dizziness has many possible causes. Some of the most common ones include low (or high) blood pressure, anemia, dehydration, endocrine system disorders (diabetes, thyroid disease), heart conditions, viral and bacterial infections, head trauma, neurological disorders, hyperventilation, heat-related disorders, and medication side effects.
How is Dizziness Treated?
In order for your Louisville audiologist to treat your dizziness, they’ll need you to undergo a thorough medical evaluation in order to help determine the cause. There is a wide variety of possible solutions including:
- Medications (antihistamines, sedatives, antibiotics, steroids)
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Repositioning exercises
- Vestibular retraining programs
In some cases, lifestyle modifications (limiting sodium intake and alcohol consumption, giving up cigarettes) may be recommended.
Most cases of dizziness are not serious, but if you’re experiencing unexplained episodes of unsteadiness – especially if you’re older – it’s in your best interest to make an appointment with a Louisville audiologist today.