The feeling of the room spinning, unstable on one’s feet? These are signs of dizziness (or to a more severe degree) vertigo. Dizziness is characterized by a room that begins to spin causing an individual to sit down or get into a reclined position—both to help relieve the symptoms or (in the case of the elderly) to avoid injury. In addition, confusion may combine with dizziness to cause a person to forget their surroundings, resulting in a fall. People may also suffer from slurred speech or inability to speak.
While some times confused with issues with the central nervous system, vertigo and dizziness are more associated with inner-ear diseases. Dizziness and vertigo are very common ailments—in fact, together, dizziness and vertigo are among the most often ailments (on par with back pain and headaches) people visit their primary care physicians for. While people visit their primary care physicians when they are afflicted with episodes of dizziness and/or vertigo, they will receive proper treatment at an otolaryngologist (more commonly known as an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician – http://www.accentmd.com/florida-ent/).
According to the National Dizzy and Balance Center (NDBC):
• Dizziness/vertigo is prevalent, with estimates ranging from 1.8% in young adults to more than 30% in the elderly, and causing considerable morbidity and utilization of health services.
• 23-30% of adults have experienced at least one episode of dizziness and 3.5% of adults experience a chronic recurrent episode greater than a one-year duration by age 65.
• There are an estimated 5 to 8 million physician visits for dizziness in the United States each year.
• One in three people will experience dizziness or imbalance during their lifetime.
• In the US, the estimated cost of medical care for patients with balance disorders exceeds $1 billion annually.
List source: NDBC (above link)
Discerning the Distinction between an Inner-Ear or an Electrolyte Imbalance
Experts conclude that dizziness and confusion are typically the two most common signs and/or symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance. Sufferers of dizziness and/or vertigo should take these symptoms seriously since they can accompany any number of more serious health conditions. One condition which may cause dizziness and/or vertigo is an electrolyte imbalance.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are substances that help the body to conduct electricity—specifically by communicating between the cells (especially those in the nerves, heart and/or muscles) to control electrical impulses (nerve impulses and muscle contractions specifically) across these cells themselves and to others.
The human body requires a proper balance of electrolytes in order for the organs to function properly.
Electrolytes further help the human body to regulate its myocardial and neurological functions, fluid balance, and the ability to deliver the body oxygen properly. Without a proper electrolyte balance, aside from episodes of dizziness, the body can suffer from ingestion and, in serious cases, renal failure.
Common electrolytes include: sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate.
In order to discern whether a person is suffering from dizziness from an electrolyte imbalance or an underlying problem, the best course of action is to seek medical attention at an ENT specialist to rule out a vestibular (i.e. inner-ear) problem. An ENT will perform auditory and vestibular tests (usually in conjunction with blood and radiological testing) as a course of action and to narrow down their diagnosis. If a vestibular problem is diagnosed, the typical treatment includes vestibular rehabilitation.
If you or a loved one are experiencing dizziness and don’t know why, we invite you to visit our Gainesville ENT clinic online at http://www.accentmd.com/florida-ent/hearing-balance.html to learn more. Continue browsing our site for general info, or schedule an appointment to discuss your individual condition today.