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Dizziness & Loss of Balance Treatment Information
We offer the following treatments and services for conditions that cause dizziness and loss of balance.
Ménièier’s disease causes spells of vertigo and loss of balance that may last minutes or hours. You may also have nausea, difficulty walking and be unable to drive. The cause of Ménière’s disease is pressure in the fluid of the inner ear.
Our treatment of this disorder focuses on reducing the pressure in the inner ear. For most people, eating a low-salt diet relieves this pressure, which eliminates symptoms or reduces them to a manageable level. Diuretic medications may be used to control symptoms. When dietary and medical therapies do not control Ménière’s disease, a procedural intervention may be needed.
This may include a surgical procedure, such as an endolymphatic shunt (an internal drain tube), which may relieve pressure in order to control vertigo.
We may also inject an antibiotic called gentamicin directly into the liquid in the inner ear. Gentamicin destroys the hair cells that transmit the signals of vertigo (a sense of spinning, or a feeling that the world is moving around you) to the brain. Destroying these hair cells also causes hearing loss in the affected ear, but relief from continual vertigo is sometimes the better choice.
Vestibular Neuritis and Labyrinthitis
Infections in the two vestibular branches of the vestibular-cochlear nerve cause vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis. Neuritis only affects the nerve branches that carry balance impulses to the brain and causes no hearing loss. Labyrinthitis is an infection of both branches of the vestibular-cochlear nerve, and it causes both vertigo and hearing loss. These disorders may be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. Our specialists have experience making this distinction and providing appropriate, effective treatment.
We treat infections promptly with the right medicines because infection may cause you permanent hearing loss over time. Viral infection is a common cause of vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis, but sometimes the cause is a bacterial.
We may treat you with antibiotics for bacterial infections, but viral infections may be more difficult. Sometimes they respond to antiviral drugs, or we may use other medicines to control your symptoms. Rehabilitation may help you achieve long-term control of vertigo.
Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence
Three small loops containing fluid in the inner ear provide your sense of balance. These loops are called semicircular canals. An opening (dehiscence) in a tiny bone connected to one of these loops causes superior semicircular canal dehiscence (SSCD). With this disorder, loud sounds may cause you to have vertigo.
To manage SSCD, we recommend you avoid loud noises or activities that cause sudden pressure in the semicircular canals. If you have severe symptoms, you may need surgical treatment. Surgery for SSCD involves repair of the damaged bone to close the hole and lessen vertigo and hearing problems. We may use small bone chips taken from the skull to make the repair. This often gives you long-term control of symptoms with minimal side effects.
Dizziness & Loss of Balance Locations & Physicians
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Dizziness & Loss of Balance Support Services
Knowing more about these conditions can help you work with your doctor to overcome or manage them. IU Health also offers support and rehabilitation for balance disorders. The sites below provide additional information about dizziness and loss of balance conditions.
A Sampling of Dizziness & Loss of Balance Support Services
Fall Prevention Home Safety Tips
Download Indiana University Health tips to prevent fall and make your home safe.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
This website features comprehensive information about Ménière’s disease.
This U.S. National Library of Medicine website includes education about the similar diseases of labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis.
Vestibular Disorders Association: Vestibular Neuritis
Learn more about labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis on this website. You can also find contact resources for support groups around the U.S.
Vestibular Disorders Association: Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence
Learn more about superior semicircular canal dehiscence on this website.