Ear related nausea and vomitting

(Image by kalhh from Pixabay)

Ear-related Nausea and Vomiting

Been there! Do not delay seeking help

Vertigo! The world begins to look like the above picture. Dizziness, spinning or whirling sensations related to  inner ear problems tend to happen suddenly. They can range from mild to incapacitating. Hearing changes,  hearing loss, ear fullness, tinnitus or buzzing in the ears and stability and balance problems are routinely reported by patients. Of course, balance problems lead to falls and potential physical injuries. 

After the onset of the dizziness, nausea and vomiting are almost sure to follow and this is what brings people eventually to the Emergency Room (ER). Do not wait too long. From personal experience, I know that the vomiting will not go away on its own and the longer it continues, the worse things become.   

Dehydration: a major threat

It is critical that the vomiting is brought under control. The main job in the ER is to stabilize the patient. Persistent nausea and vomiting lead to dehydration and imbalance in the blood chemicals, such as sodium, potassium, chloride, which are known as electrolytes. People become sluggish, weak and confused. They may have abnormal heart beats and become even more nauseous. 

Hydration by means of IV fluids together with medications to abort the nausea are of utmost importance. Luckily, some of the medications that are used to stop the nausea also suppress or calm an overly active inner ear, which helps people feel more balanced again.   

Screening for other factors: a short list

However, there are many causes for dizziness attacks, This is why the ER  doctor will ask questions  that could indicate other or contributing problems: food, medications, recreational drugs etc. Could this be a stroke? Might the heart be involved? An EKG sheds light on that issue. It is important to find out what is NOT a cause. Blood test are ordered and the doctor will also perform eye movement or “nystagmus” tests. 

Inner ear problems can reveal themselves in abnormal eye movements. The way the eyes move, rotate and twitch involuntarily can tell the doctor if the inner ear or the brain is involved. 

The journey continues

After the patient is stabilized and feels better, the discharge recommendations are sure to include an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) consult ASAP. As I can testify, it will be of great help if the ER doctor notified the ENT department of your Health organization that you need to be seen and why. Ask for this to happen. I wish I had! 

Digging deeper to pinpoint a definite diagnosis is still needed and exceeds what the ER can do. One might feel better but the journey is not over.  

And so, armed with the ER records, the search is on for what launches these attacks  and how to manage and/or treat them.

No matter what, NEVER ignore dizziness symptoms. They are not normal and need to be investigated. Maybe they have nothing to do with the inner ear. Who knows? But it is time to find out. Mother Nature is talking to us.  


For ever devoted to healthy hearing – that most precious sense. 

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