A brief outline of causes of dizziness, imbalance and hearing disorders.

Timothy C. Hain, MD

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Definitions:

Overview: These words are often used in a general way and cover a large number of categories of disease. One must be more specific in order to narrow down to a smaller potential subset of disorders.

Causes of Dizziness.

Overview: The proportion of dizziness attributed to these categories varies considerably, but roughly 50% of all dizziness is caused by inner ear disturbances, about 5% by medical and neurological problems each, about 15% by psychological disturbances, and the remainder of patients (about 25%) the diagnosis is essentially unknown.

Causes of Imbalance

Overview: In dizzy patients, most imbalance is caused by inner ear disturbances. When dizziness is not present, most imbalance is central.  In older patients, multisensory disturbances are the most common. In younger patients, central problems are more common.

Causes of Hearing Disturbances

Overview: The great majority of hearing disturbances are sensorineural, either associated with aging or noise exposure. Conductive hearing losses can generally be fixed by surgery. Central hearing losses are very rare. Psychological hearing losses are also very uncommon.

References:

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