Level 1: Hospital name - University College London Hospitals

Level 1: Hospital name - University College London Hospitals
National Hospital for Neurology
and Neurosurgery
Inner ear balance problems
Department of Neuro-otology
If you would like this document in another language
or format or if you require the services of an
interpreter please contact the department directly.
We will try our best to meet your needs.
Contents
How does the inner ear help control our balance?
3
What happens if there is a problem with the inner ear
balance mechanisms?
4
What are the causes of inner ear balance problems?
5
How do we recover from an inner ear balance
problem?
6
How do doctors treat inner ear balance problems?
6
Why do some people have difficulty recovering
from an inner ear balance problem?
7
Why is my inner balance problem worse on some
days and better on others?
8
What about travelling?
9
Where can I get further information?
10
Where to find us
11
Contact details
12
2
Your doctor in the department of Neuro-otology at the
National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery has
diagnosed you with a balance disorder related to the inner
ear. This booklet has been written to provide you with some
more information about this diagnosis.
How does the inner ear help control our balance?
In addition to hearing, the inner ear is also important for
controlling our balance. We have two balance organs (one
in each inner ear) and each of these has set of receptors
that detect movements of our head.
These receptors can detect rotational movements of the
head -for example if you sat in a swivel chair and the chair
was spun around. The receptors can also detect when the
head moves in a straight line – if you sat in an office chair
and someone pushed the chair across the room in a straight
line.
When our inner ears detect these head movements, they
send signals to our brain to let us know which direction we
are moving in. The brain then sends this information on to
our eyes which helps us to keep our vision in focus even
when our head is moving ( for example, a footballer can
keep his eye on the ball even when he is running around).
3
Picture 1: The inner
ear is involved in
hearing and balance
What happens if there is a problem with the inner
ear balance mechanisms?
An inner ear balance problem means that one or both of
your inner ears has stopped sending accurate signals to
your brain. This can cause the following type of problem:

Feeling dizzy and off-balance when walking around,
particularly if you move your head quickly (such as looking
side to side when about to cross the road).

Feeling like you are moving even when you are not when this is severe people can even have a spinning
sensation.

Feeling dizzy and unbalanced when you move your
eyes quickly, or if there are lots of things moving around in
your field of vision, for example people might feel dizzy in a
busy supermarket.
4
Figure 1: The
inner ear is one
of the three main
sensory inputs
used by our
brains to control
our balance
What are the causes of inner ear balance problems?
There are many different causes of inner ear balance
problems although sometimes a cause will not be
found. Some of the commoner causes are:
 A viral infection of the inner ear known as vestibular
neuritis
 Inner ear problems related to migraine for example
migraine associated dizziness
 Damage to the inner ear following a head injury
 Ménière’s disease (a condition where the inner ear is
under too much pressure, this is usually accompanied by
hearing loss and ringing in one ear)
5
How do we recover from an inner ear balance problem?
Most people recover well from an inner ear balance
problem. For example, a viral infection will make people feel
very dizzy and off balance for the first few days. However,
these symptoms improve over the following days and
weeks, even if the viral infection has caused some damage
to the inner ear. This process of recovery from an inner ear
balance problem is known as compensation.
How do doctors treat inner ear balance problems?
Research has shown that the best way to recover from an
inner ear balance problem is to perform specially designed
exercises to help speed up the process of compensation.
These are called vestibular rehabilitation exercises and
must be performed regularly, for a few minutes four times a
day. They are designed to provoke your symptoms of
dizziness in a regular, controlled way, so that your brain can
adapt to the inner ear balance problem. Your doctor will
advise you and give you some written information that tells
you how to do the exercises and you may also be referred
to a physiotherapist.
6
Carrying out regular, daily vestibular rehabilitation
exercises is the most important part of any inner ear
balance treatment programme: they are critical for
recovery.
Medicines used for attacks of dizziness are not suitable
long-term treatments for inner ear balance problems. If
taken regularly they may interfere with compensation and
delay recovery. Short-term (a few days) use of some
medications can help relieve attacks of severe dizziness
and nausea that some people can experience. An inner ear
problem due to Ménière’s disease or migraine may require
medicines to help treat these conditions.
Why do some people have difficulty recovering from
an inner ear balance problem?
There are factors which are known to slow recovery from
an inner ear balance problem, these include:
 Not regularly performing the vestibular rehabilitation
exercises. These exercises are the most useful treatment
for most inner ear balance problems and should be
performed every day. Occasionally people find that the
exercises make them feel too dizzy. If this happens you
must tell your doctor or physiotherapist so that your exercise
7
programme can be adjusted.
 Continuing to take medicines for balance. Certain
medicines can interfere with the process of compensation
for an inner ear balance condition. Examples of tablets that
can interfere with compensation if taken in the long term
include Stemetil (prochlorperazine), Serc (betahistine) and
Stugeron (Cinnarazine). We will advise you about which
medicines are suitable to take for your condition.
• Suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. Stress,
anxiety, panic attacks, fear of going out alone and
depression can all follow on from a balance problem and
can slow down recovery. They may need treatment in their
own right. If you have any questions or concerns, please
discuss these with your doctor.
Why is my inner balance problem worse on some
days and better on others?
Inner ear balance symptoms can change from day to
day. Factors that are known to bring on symptoms
include:
 Being generally unwell, for example having a heavy cold
 Stress, anxiety and lack of sleep
8
 Alcohol
 Long car or bus journeys, or a long flight
What about travelling?
Some people with an inner ear balance problem are more
likely to feel unwell or nauseous when travelling in cars,
coaches, buses, trains, planes or by sea. You may find
that some standard motion sickness tablets are helpful.
Please ask your pharmacist or GP.
Flying is generally safe with an inner ear balance problem;
however some people can feel dizzier after a flight. This
may be due to changes in middle ear pressure during the
flight. It is helpful to prevent pressure problems when flying
by regularly chewing and opening your mouth widely when
the plane is ascending and descending. This will open up
the tube that connects your nose to your ear (the
Eustachian tube). A nasal decongestant spray from your
pharmacist can also help.
9
Where can I get further information?
Action on Hearing Loss (formerly Royal National Institute for
the Deaf (RNID))
Telephone 0808 808 0123
Textphone 0808 808 9000
SMS 0780 0000 360
http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/supporting-you/
factsheets-and-leaflets/ears-and-ear-problems.aspx
Brain and Spine Foundation: Dizziness and balance
problems information page:
http://www.brainandspine.org.uk/information/publications/
brain_and_spine_booklets/dizziness_and_balance_problem
s/index.html
Mèniére’s Society: Vertigo and Dizziness, by Lucy Yardley.
Available as a free download. http://www.menieres.org.uk/
vertigo_and_dizziness_book_download.html
UCL Hospitals cannot accept responsibility for information
provided by external organisations.
10
Where to find us
11
Contact details
Department of Neuro-otology
The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery
Queen Square
London
WC1N 3BG
Switchboard: 0845 155 5000 / 020 3456 7890
Telephone: 020 3448 3135
Fax: 020 3448 4775
Website: www.uclh.nhs.uk/nhnn
Publication date: February 2010
Date last reviewed: March 2016
Date next review due: March 2018
Leaflet code: UCHL/NHNN/NOTOL/IEBP/PIL02
© University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 2010
12
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF

advertising