Frequently Asked Questions

Dizziness is a symptom, not a disease. People use the word to describe various sensations including spinning vertigo, imbalance, and lightheadedness. Dizziness can be caused by a multitude of disorders, and requires expertise in making the appropriate diagnosis.

Vertigo is a term reserved for a sense of motion when the body is really at rest. Most often, vertigo is experienced as a spinning sensation like that experienced after getting off of a merry-go-round. Linear motion or a rocking motion is also described.

The words "woozy," "about to black out," "tunnel vision," and "lightheadedness" are associated with dizziness. These sensations are almost always due to insufficient blood flow to the brain. In general, symptoms are worse when standing and improve with lying down. This kind of dizziness is frequently experienced by healthy individuals who rise quickly from a chair, often after a meal, and have a few seconds of disorientation.

Another cause of dizziness is related to various physiological conditions often associated with anxiety. Hyperventilation can cause lightheadedness and a sense of unsteadiness, as well as tingling around the mouth and fingertips. The many other causes of dizziness may be due to an acoustic tumor located on the balance nerve or many other serious conditions. It is important to seek medical attention if your dizziness stays the same or worsens with time.

We recommend that if your dizziness stays the same or worsens with time, you should seek medical attention. At the Ear Institute of Texas, our experienced physicians conduct a thorough medical history and evaluation of dizziness, with the understanding that there are many potential causes, some more dangerous than others. We utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to evaluate the inner ear as well as contributions from the other organ systems involved in maintaining balance (vision, pressure receptors in muscles and joints, and central nervous system). All of this information is analyzed by our physicians, helping them to arrive at a diagnosis.

YES! Once a diagnosis of the dizziness is established, physical therapy can be directed for most causes. Some forms of dizziness, such as with Meniere's disease, may require medical, or rarely surgical, treatment. Vestibular therapy/balance retraining is a relatively new advance in treating many forms of dizziness, and is offered at the Ear Institute of Texas for comprehensive care of our patients.

Tinnitus is common disorder in which individuals experience an abnormal perception of sound not coming from the surrounding environment. It is frequently associated with age-related hearing loss, but can also indicate more rare conditions such as tumors on the hearing nerve.

Patients with tinnitus are often told by physicians and friends that there is nothing that can be done and to “learn to live with it.” However, in actuality, here at the Ear Institute of Texas we offer a number of treatments that our patients find beneficial. These alternatives included masking techniques, amplification, biofeedback, and prescription medications.

Hearing loss can be a slowly progressive condition that may not be recognized by a person until it reaches a certain level. It is also a condition that is commonly denied by its sufferers. People frequently blame others for “not speaking clearly” and “not facing me when they talk” (a sign that the person is relying partially on lip reading). Sufferers of hearing loss need to be aware that studies indicate appropriate treatment of hearing loss is shown to decrease feelings of isolation and depression, as well as improve a person’s ability to integrate normally into society (e.g. in their social groups and workplace). Denial is not the answer.

Some warning signs include:

Asking people to repeat themselves

Missing large parts of conversations when there is a lot of background noise

Finding it hard to understand dialogue at the movies or the theater

Complaining that people around you are mumbling when they speak

Inability to hear common sounds like doorbells or alarm clocks

If you think you have a hearing loss, please contact your physician soon. In some cases, hearing loss can be prevented from worsening.

There are many possible causes of hearing loss including:

• Aging

• Genetics

• Noise

• Trauma to the head

• Infection

• Meniere's Disease

• Tumors

• Otosclerosis

• Congenital Disorders

• Physical blockage

If you think you have a hearing loss, you should see a doctor to get a hearing test to determine the cause and whether or not it is permanent or temporary.

Ear Institute of Texas | 18518 Hardy Oak Blvd, Suite 300 | San Antonio, TX 78258 | Telephone:210.696.4327 | Fax:210.798.2509