The inner ear is contained within the bones of the skull, quite separated from the middle ear. It contains the cochlea for hearing and the labyrinth for balance. The labyrinths in each of our ears work as a pair sending and receiving messages to the brain as inputs are received about our body’s position in space. As one labyrinth is stimulated the other will be inhibited and vice versa. The brain expects the responses from each labyrinth to be equal but where one side is not functioning as it should the brain needs to make adjustments for this. UVD affects the labyrinth in only one ear. In these situations the brain will give us symptoms as an indication that things are not as they should be.

Some people will get a whole range of symptoms varying in intensity. For others symptoms may be more mild. These symptoms may include:

-Vertigo/ dizziness
-loss of balance/ falls
-Nausea/ vomiting
-Light or heavy headedness
-Visual blurring

UVD is a major event. Initially these symptoms may be intense and quite limiting. You may feel very unstable and have visual blurring due to an involuntary eye movement called nystagmus even when your head is still. This is unlikely to last more than a few days but may last up to 2 weeks until your system adjusts and begins to compensate. After this time you may still have a ‘catch up’ where your eye movement is not quite keeping up with your head movement when you move your head. This will be most obvious with faster head movements but will continue to improve with time and appropriate rehabilitation.

There are several possible courses of a Unilateral Vestibular Dysfunction including Labyrinthitis or Vestibular Neuritis. Your physio will discuss these with you as rehab must be specific to the sensory organs affected.

The sooner you commence rehab and quicker you get moving the sooner you will improve as improvement involves your Central Nervous System (you brain) recalibrating its response to head movements

Unilateral Vestibular dysfunction


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