There are four main types of dizziness: vertigo, disequilibrium, presyncope, and lightheadedness.
Vertigo: An illusion of movement, classically described as “spinning”. Vertigo reflects dysfunction at some level of the vestibular system.
Disequilibrium: A disturbance in balance or coordination. Observation of a patient's gait and careful neurologic examination is essential in evaluating disequilibrium.
Presyncope: An sense of impending loss of consciousness.
Lightheadedness: A sensation in the head that is not vertiginous, presyncopal, or related to ambulation.
Audiologists evaluate and treat vertigo specifically. They use a number of tests and techniques to help with differential diagnosis in collaboration with other healthcare professionals.
Dizziness can be very complicated. As a patient, it may be helpful to keep a journal of symptoms and bring this to your appointment. During the case history with your provider, it is important to distinguish between several key factors to help determine if dizziness is originating from the central or peripheral nervous system.
The first factor is the length of each episode.Vertiginous episodes can last seconds to minutes, minutes to hours, or hours to days.
The second factor is noting if episodes are recurrent or singular in nature. Did the episode happen one time, or does it happen daily?
Third, it is important to note other otologic (ear) symptoms that accompany symptoms of dizziness. These include ear pain, ear fullness, tinnitus, hearing loss, and aural distortion.
Last, it is important to note any neurologic symptoms during dizziness. These include weak limbs, facial weakness, and headache.
If you are dizzy or know someone who is, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 816-478-4200 to schedule an appointment!
Reilly BM. Dizziness. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 212. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK325/