by Annette Pinder

Have you ever felt dizzy or lightheaded? Lost your balance? Experienced vertigo (a feeling of spinning)? 
One in 3 people will have dizziness or balance dysfunction during their life time. They are the number 1 complaint of patients over age 70 and number 3 complaint of all patients (after headache and lower back pain).

Twenty million Americans visit the emergency room each year for fall related injuries, and balance-related falls account for more than half of the accidental deaths in the elderly. These problems have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life and overall safety. Imagine the world spinning around you constantly.

According to Lixin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Dizziness and Balance Center at Buffalo’s Dent Neurologic Institute, 90 percent of all causes of dizziness can be identified with a thorough evaluation. Even more impressive is his assertion that 90 percent of dizziness and imbalance, once diagnosed, can be treated successfully. Yet many people suffer much longer than they should. Years can go by without an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. In fact, preliminary data at the Center reveals their new patients had an average 55 months of dizziness, multiple physician and ER visits, and various tests without resolution before their first evaluation.

The most common problem causing dizziness and vertigo is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). Dr. Zhang says BPPV is caused by crystals to fall into the inner ear canal and resolving this can take only minutes by positioning the patient’s head correctly to reposition the crystals. Patients are often amazed at how quickly and simply their symptoms may be resolved. The second most common dizziness or lightheadedness is called phobic postural vertigo. These patients tend to have feeling of imbalance, or fear of falling, especially under stress, in the crowded places like church, grocery store or shopping mall. Other common problems treated as the dizziness center include migraine associated vertigo, Menieres disease, peripheral or central vestibulopathies and imbalance/fall related problems. Dr. Zhang adds that with extensive diagnostic information, we can provide a fairly specific diagnosis, and treatment protocols. Our successful rate is above 90 percent. Even for patients without much improvement, specific reasons may be identified.

Dr. Zhang is able to provide comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and treatment all in one location. The treatment is mainly the combination of non-sedative dizziness preventive medications and vestibular therapy. Since the Center opened nearly two years ago, more than 1,000 patients have been evaluated and treated. Prior to that, Western New Yorkers had to travel to The Cleveland Clinic, or elsewhere in the U.S. to receive these same tests. The Center is offering Computerized Dynamic Posturography, the state-of-art technology developed for NASA astronauts, to evaluate patients with unexplained falls or an imbalance condition. The technology may also provide objective data to assess the ability for a patient to return to a normal lifestyle following a sports concussion or work-related injuries.

Lixin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D. is the Medical Director of The Dizziness and Balance Center DENT Neurological Institute 716-250-2000 He is accepting new patients.