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|What is Dizziness and How and Why is it Related to the Ear?|
Dizziness is a very "general" term that can involve any one or all of the following:
Only VERTIGO - i.e., a feeling of spinning or whirling is specifically related to ear disease and/or the related neurologic pathways. If you have true vertigo, see your doctor.
On the other hand, unspecific unsteadiness or a tendency to fall rarely involves ear disease and most people are relegated to learning to live with this problem.
HOW DO WE KEEP OUR BALANCE?
Maintaining one's balance involves three basic functions:
If at any time, one of these functions is severely and abruptly impaired, or two of these functions are impaired, balance is becomes very difficult. Let's look at the functions involved:
WHY IS DIZZINESS COMMON IN THE ELDERLY?
Like hearing and aging, there is a general decline in sensory cells in the vestibular system as we get older - some studies suggest about a 40% reduction in the canals and 25% in the utricle and saccule. This is not a disease, but a normal aging process. With less balance input from the ears, maintaining balance is not as easy as when you were younger. Also, blood supply to the ears is poorer as we get older. Standing too quickly often produces unsteadiness, or turning the neck too abruptly may cause sudden dizziness.
It's important to not be afraid of dizziness. Yes, you may have to be more careful in your daily movements, but it's important to stay active. Our instincts tell us that we feel dizzy, we should stop what we're doing, sit down and close our eyes. But this is the wrong thing to do. If you feel dizzy, keep your eyes open, your feet on the ground, and steady yourself with a hand or arm. Wait for the dizziness to subside, then keep going.