Medical Q&As

Vertigo - neurological referral?

I am a 23-year-old male who has a hearing disability, but does not require a hearing aid. I do however suffer spells of loss of balance and find it hard to stand still and focus with a feeling that Iím falling and staggering as if drunk. It is quite an uncomfortable feeling and hard to explain. The other day in town I experienced one of these spells and fell on to the ground and banged my head. I fell unconscious for a second or two and after being awakened by passers-by I was very unaware of what had happened. It felt as if I had been removed from my bed in a dream and wakened on the street. It took me a while to remember where I was going. I do not know if I became unconscious before I hit the ground or not? I went to the college doctor and he is referring me to a neurologist. I was sent to another specialist before and tested for diabetes (which proved negative) and it was suggested at the time that I had vertigo. I do notice that my hearing tends to be affected by the cold weather and that it may have something to do with it. I cannot think how dangerous that above situation could have been. What if I was on a motorbike or even fractured my skull? Is there any chance you might now whatís wrong with me or what I might do? I do not want anything like this to happen again. (P.S. I donít do drugs or smoke and only drink in moderation).

I think that your doctor is following the correct course of action by referring you to a neurologist. It is important that you be neurologically assessed in order to explain the reasons for this recent episode. It could have been due to vertigo, which is often associated with abnormalities of the ear. There is a condition known as Meniereís disease, which is characterised by episodes of vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus. Acute attacks of Meniereís disease can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The cause of the condition is not known. There is also a condition known as labyrynthitis, which means inflammation of the labyrinth or balance mechanism. This usually occurs as a consequence of viral infection and tends to be self-limiting. I have mentioned those two conditions because they can be associated with hearing loss but it is probably best for me not to engage in further speculation about your condition.. I understand your sense of concern about this episode but it is difficult to give you practical advice for the future in the absence of a medical diagnosis. As stated earlier, I think that referral to a neurologist is the correct approach to take.