Dizziness is a balance disorder that is far more common than many people think. Also referred to as vertigo, dizziness occurs when the inner ear malfunctions, creating an imbalance. Dysfunction of the inner ear will cause an imbalance between the semicircular ear canals, creating a sensation of spinning or turning. Dizziness is one of the most common complaints that people bring to their ENT doctor. Thankfully, the majority of causes of dizziness are both detectable and treatable. 

Light-headedness or dizziness occurs when there is not enough blood getting to the brain, and this can happen for various reasons. Dizziness is a more common occurrence in people as they age, who will often experience dizziness when getting up from lying down or in a seated position. As your ENT doctor will note, dizziness often accompanies the flu, hypoglycemia, a common cold, or allergies. The most common types of dizziness are benign positional vertigo and labyrinthitis, which are caused by quickly changing positions or from a viral infection of the inner ear, respectively.



There are numerous causes for dizziness that your ENT doctor will look at, including the following:

  • Problems in the inner ear
  • Vestibular disorders
  • Disorders in the central nervous system, the brain, or the brainstem
  • Cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure or anemia
  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Reaction to medication
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Dehydration due to vomiting, diarrhea, or fever
  • Serious heart problems, including abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack, or stroke
  • Benign positional vertigo
  • Labyrinthitis (typically followed by a cold or flu and caused by a viral infection of the inner ear)

While less common, dizziness may also be a sign of multiple sclerosis, seizures, a brain tumor, or bleeding in your brain. These conditions are typically accompanied by some level of dizziness or imbalance.



When you visit your ENT doctor  for dizziness, he will likely perform a wide variety of tests to observe your balance and determine your equilibrium. In some cases an MRI may also be recommended in order to make a more accurate diagnosis. The treatment plan will depend upon what is causing your symptoms. It is important to try and stand and sit up slowly when experiencing bouts of dizziness, as this will help regulate your balance. Since your balance system is located in your inner ear, a hearing test is the most common first diagnostic procedure that will be performed by your ear, nose, and throat doctor.