Dizziness, vertigo, and disequilibrium are common symptoms reported by adults during visits to their doctors. They are all symptoms that can result from either a dysfunction of the balance organs of the inner ear (peripheral vestibular disorder) or a dysfunction of one or more parts of the central nervous system that help process balance and spatial information (central vestibular disorder). Although these three symptoms can be linked by a common cause, they have different meanings, and describing them accurately to your doctor can mean the difference between a successful diagnosis and one that is missed.
Dizziness is a sensation of lightheadedness, faintness, or unsteadiness.
Unlike dizziness, vertigo has a rotational, spinning component, and is the perception of movement, either of the self or surrounding objects.
Disequilibrium simply means unsteadiness, imbalance, or loss of equilibrium that is often accompanied by spatial disorientation.
So what is spatial disorientation? Believe it or not, almost everyone has experienced a few seconds of spatial disorientation at some point. For example, when you’re watching a 3-D movie in the theater and momentarily experience the illusion of moving or falling as the images rush past.
Frequent episodes of vertigo—whether lasting only for a few seconds or days on end—however, are a primary sign of vestibular dysfunction, especially when they occur with changes in the position of your head.
By contrast, dizziness can be a primary sign of a vestibular disorder in addition to a broad array of cardiovascular, neurological, metabolic, visual, and psychological problems. Because of the many possible causes of dizziness, getting a correct diagnosis can be a long and frustrating experience.
(From VEDA publication S-9, Causes of Dizziness)
If you do not feel comfortable discussing your conditions here, or if you haven’t been diagnosed with a specific cause of your symptoms, a physical therapist who is certified in vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), like Amanda McCallum, PT or Brett Lezamiz, PT, DPT, OCS at Pinnacle Physical Therapy
Added on 06/08/2011
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