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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Vestibular neuritis: Viruses that damage balance

There are many viruses that are attracted to nervous tissue (neurotropic) and so can attack the brain and nerves.  The inner ears are each served by nerves that exit directly from the brain, and so can be affected by viruses that cause brain inflammation (encephalitis), and infection of the lining of the brain (meningitis). There are many viruses that can do this.  Common neurotropic viruses include the enteroviruses (for example, polio and stomach flu);  herpesviruses that cause cold sores;  influenza, and the viruses that cause measles and mumps. Recently COVID-19 has been linked to brain inflammation and dizziness.

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Something rare: Behçet’s Syndrome

There are many rare diseases that cause dizziness.  Although  they are not frequent, they have unusual groups of symptoms that can help make your diagnosis clear.

Behçet’s syndrome is type of vasculitis –inflammation of the blood vessels. This kind of inflammation can damage many different parts of the body.  Dizziness is a frequent symptom, occurring in more than a  third of patients. Typically the disease goes through repeated flare-ups and remissions.

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