When the inner ear leaks, sound causes vertigo

The balance parts of the inner ear—the labyrinths–are filled with fluid and surrounded by the bone of the skull.  They are designed to sense only tiny movements of fluid caused by moving the head, so they need to be protected from other things that could cause fluid movement.  Right next door to the labyrinth is  the hearing part of the ear, the cochlea, which also senses fluid movement. In the cochlea this fluid movement is caused by a pressure wave from sound entering the inner ear through a thin membrane. The sound waves go right past the labyrinth and head straight into the cochlea, so only sound is heard and no motion is felt.  As long as the bone protects and surrounds the labyrinth, this system works perfectly.  Sometimes, though, the bone protecting the labyrinth is cracked or a hole forms, and suddenly a new problem shows up:  sound can be felt as spinning. 

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Damage to both ears

Severe damage to both inner ears can cause mild dizziness, moderate imbalance and severe difficulty with vision.  Bilateral vestibulopathy is the technical name for this problem; bilateral indicates that the process affects both ears, and vestibulopathy is a general term referring to disease of the vestibular system.  The process can also be acute, meaning that it came on abruptly; chronic, meaning that it has been present long-term, or progressive, indicating that function is being lost in steps over time.  In the past this was called Dandy syndrome after a neurosurgeon, Walter Dandy, who noticed these symptoms after performing surgery to cut both vestibular nerves in some of his patients.  

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