By Dr. Valerie Guzzo, Director of Clinical Education and Training
Summer is in full swing, bringing with it all the fun that accompanies it. For these few months of summer break, when school’s out and vacations abound, there are countless activities to choose from when deciding how to spend your free time.
We are fortunate in Southern California to have so many recreational opportunities in close proximity. In addition to many amusement parks and tourist attractions to visit, we have countless free and low-cost entertainment options surrounding us. We’re lucky that Orange County boasts six picturesque beaches, including our very own Newport Beach, encompassing 42 miles of sun and sand, which provides infinite amounts of relaxation and enjoyment. In addition, we can attend concerts and movies in the park, swim or float in the pool, hike and bike the many trails, charter a boat and so much more. But if you’re not feeling well, getting out to enjoy summer activities can be a challenge.
When you’re suffering from dizziness, vertigo and imbalance, many of which are caused by problems in the inner ear’s balance system (called vestibular dysfunction), just doing the minimum to get through each day sometimes seems unsurmountable. Couple that with sweltering heat, it’s easy to see why some people opt to spend their summer indoors, away from crowds, avoiding sensory overload. With vestibular dysfunction, not to mention vestibular migraines, it can be debilitating.
People with vestibular dysfunction can experience a myriad of symptoms that can range from mild to severe, lasting briefly or more prolonged. These symptoms may include imbalance or unsteadiness, spinning or whirling sensations, lightheadedness, blurred vision, nausea, hearing changes, incoordination, faulty memory, sensitivity to lights and sounds, extreme fatigue, headaches, back pains and more, which undeniably leads to increased irritability and depression. That’s not the ideal way to spend your summer (or any season)!
Vestibular dysfunction can happen to anyone, of any age or health. It can strike even the strongest, fittest athletes, which is especially frustrating for those that are used to living such an active lifestyle to be suddenly incapacitated. 35 percent of the people in the U.S. will experience dizziness, vertigo or a balance disorder sometime in their lives. In fact, these symptoms are the third most common reason for visits to a Primary Care Physician’s office for those under 75 years of age and the number one reason for visits for people 75 years and older.
People often wonder what causes vestibular disorders. If you are blessed NOT to suffer from this, you should take note of how best to try to avoid inadvertently causing it to happen. Head injuries and whiplash are a common cause of vestibular disorders in people under 50 (use caution when driving, doing action sports and at amusement parks). It can also happen to divers or those that fly, when ascending or descending too rapidly, thus damaging the ear. Inner ear infections can also be a culprit, as it damages the hearing structures of the ear, including the nerves that transmit signal from the ear to the brain. Even a simple viral infection can bring on the onset of a vestibular disorder. High doses or long-term use of certain antibiotics can be ‘ototoxic’, causing permanent damage to the inner ear.
As you can imagine, dealing with these symptoms, while not always knowing when they might come on, can leave you feeling powerless and apathetic. When friends and family are out enjoying summer activities, sufferers could easily choose not to participate and isolate themselves. Although we tend to have an ‘endless summer’ in Orange County, all the most entertaining activities happen during traditional summer months. Which means that we need to take advantage of it while it lasts. Soon enough, school will be back in session, bringing with it fall activities, then the countdown to Christmas (GASP!)
If you, or one of your loved ones, is suffering from dizziness, vertigo or imbalance, we want you to get back to the lifestyle and activities you enjoy. We know how frustrating it can be to try to manage life feeling awful and we encourage you to take the steps to get treatment.
At Newport-Mesa Audiology Balance & Ear Institute, we have a team of doctors of audiology that can diagnose and treat vestibular dysfunction. We are unique because we both diagnose and treat patients at the same location, making it more convenient and effective. Our propriety Advanced Vestibular Treatment™ (AVT) has an over 90 percent success rate. We treat the actual vestibular system (where many of these problems begin) with our ‘top-down’ approach versus traditional methods administered by physical therapists.
We encourage you to contact our Patient Services team to find out more and schedule a balance evaluation appointment to see if you might be a candidate for AVT – 949.274.8399 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our entire Institute team is compassionate and patient-focused. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you get back into some fun summer activities!