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What is a vestibular disorder?

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Quick Answer

A vestibular disorder is a disorder that occurs when injury or disease damages the vestibular system, which includes regions of the brain and inner ear that process information related to eye movements and balance, explains the Vestibular Disorders Association. Environmental factors or genetic conditions may also cause vestibular disorders.

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Full Answer

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, as well as Ménière’s disease, secondary endolymphatic hydrops and labyrinthitis are among the most frequently diagnosed vestibular disorders, according to VEDA. With the exception of Ménière’s disease, these disorders occur as a result of trauma, infection or environmental factors.

Ménière’s disease is an example of a disorder with an unknown exact cause, though it produces symptoms as a result of endolymph buildup in the inner ear, explains VEDA. Secondary endolymphatic hydrops is similar in that it involves endolymph buildup, but this vestibular disorder occurs after an event such as an ear surgery or head trauma. On the other hand, BPPV is an example of a vestibular disorder caused by environmental conditions, as it occurs when debris accumulates in the inner ear.

Labyrinthitis is a vestibular disorder that results from an infection that inflames the region connecting the inner ear to the brain, states VEDA. When an infection takes hold in the inner ear and affects both branches of the vestibulo-cochlear nerve, labyrinthitis may occur. Labyrinthitis leads to hearing changes and vertigo.

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