Feeling dizzy can be frustrating, but is, unfortunately, common. About 1 out of 3 people will have bothersome dizziness at some point in their life. It can interfere with your life, and getting the right information can be a challenge.
At the Dizziness Clinic, part of the Division of Neurology’s Balance Disorder Program at the University of Michigan Health System, our team of experts take the time to listen to you, to comprehensively examine you, and to discuss with you our recommendations for further evaluation and treatment with the goal of getting you back to your normal routine.
We evaluate and treat patients with any dizziness symptoms or disorders, including:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (brought on by certain changes in head position)
- Cerebellar ataxia syndrome (degeneration of the brain causes ataxia symptoms)
- Cerebrovascular disorders (conditions that affect the brain’s blood vessels)
- Chronic dizziness
- Labyrinthitis (inflammation of the inner ear that also affects hearing)
- Meniere's disease (a disorder of the inner ear that affects hearing and balance)
- Migraine-associated dizziness
- Vertigo (a catch-all term for episodes of dizziness or loss of balance)
- Vestibular neuritis (a viral infection of the vestibular nerve)
To evaluate a patient, we start by gathering a complete medical history including all your symptoms, followed by a physical exam and comprehensive neurological exam, assessing the functioning of your nervous system and vestibular system (your sense organs). In some cases, a brain MRI, hearing test, or vestibular test may be ordered.
There are many reasons for dizziness, with some of the most common causes involving the vestibular system, a system that consists of both "peripheral" and "central" components. The peripheral vestibular system includes the inner structures and the nerve that travels to the brain. The central vestibular system includes nerves fibers and cells in the brain.
One of the most common peripheral vestibular system disorders is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which occurs when small calcium particles get into an inner ear canal. These particles send false signals about movement to the brain. BPPV can be treated immediately in-office, generally using a series of head and body movements to move the debris out of the canal.
Other peripheral vestibular disorders include vestibular neuritis – generally one prolonged vertigo attack and Meniere’s disease which leads to recurrent attacks of vertigo and hearing loss on one side.
Sometimes people have chronic dizziness and a specific diagnosis cannot be made using a laboratory test or a scan. We believe chronic dizziness is likely caused by mechanisms similar to what causes headaches – that is why the term "migraine dizziness" is often used. We still have a lot to learn about the best treatment for this kind of dizziness; however we will take the time to discuss with you factors that have potential to help. This starts with considering lifestyle and general health factors, such as optimal sleep, exercise, and diet. In addition, your mental health is very important. In certain situations, medications may be helpful.
Although less common, central nervous system disorders such as stroke or tumors can also cause dizziness.
Because of our collaborative atmosphere, we partner with physicians across a variety of disciplines to better care for your disorder, including the Ataxia Clinic, Otolaryngology, Physical Therapy, the Movement Disorders Program, the Sleep Disorders Center, Neuroradiology, and the Vestibular Testing Center.