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Dizziness


Overview :

The brain coordinates information from the eyes, the inner ear, and the body's senses to maintain balance. If any of these information sources is disrupted, the brain may not be able to compensate. For example, people sometimes experience motion sickness because the information from their body tells the brain that they are sitting still, but information from the eyes indicates that they are moving. The messages do not correspond and dizziness results.

Vision and the body's senses are the most important systems for maintaining balance, but problems in the inner ear are the most frequent cause of dizziness. The inner ear, also called the vestibular system, contains fluid that helps fine tune the information the brain receives from the eyes and the body. When fluid volume or pressure in one inner ear changes, information about balance is altered. The discrepancy gives conflicting messages to the brain about balance and induces dizziness.

Certain medical conditions can cause dizziness, because they affect the systems that maintain balance. For example, the inner ear is very sensitive to changes in blood flow. Because medical conditions such as high blood pressure or low blood sugar can affect blood flow, these conditions are frequently accompanied by dizziness. Circulation disorders are the most common causes of dizziness. Other causes are head injury, ear infection, allergies, and nervous system disorders.

Dizziness often disappears without treatment or with treatment of the underlying problem, but it can be long term or chronic. According to the National Institutes of Health, 42% of Americans will seek medical help for dizziness at some point in their lives. The costs may exceed a billion dollars and account for five million doctor visits annually. Episodes of dizziness increase with age. Among people aged 75 or older, dizziness is the most frequent reason for seeing a doctor.




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