A balance disorder is a disturbance that causes an individual to feel unsteady, giddy, woozy, or have a sensation of movement, spinning, or floating. An organ in our inner ear, the labyrinth, is an important part of our vestibular (balance) system. The labyrinth interacts with other systems in the body, such as the visual (eyes) and skeletal (bones and joints) systems, to maintain the body’s position. These systems, along with the brain and the nervous system, can be the source of balance problems.
Balance disorder symptoms include:
- A sensation of dizziness or vertigo (spinning)
- Falling or a feeling of falling
- Lightheadedness or feeling woozy
- Visual blurring
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
- Fear, anxiety, or panic
The symptoms may appear and disappear over short time periods or may last for a longer period of time.
Balance Disorder Causes
Balance disorders can be due to problems in any of four areas:
- Peripheral vestibular disorder – a disturbance in the labyrinth
- Central vestibular disorder – a problem in the brain or its connecting nerves
- Systemic disorder – a problem of the body other than the head and brain
- Vascular disorder or blood flow problems
What are some types of balance disorders?
Some of the more common balance disorders are:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
- Meniere’s disease
- Vestibular neuronitis
- Perilymph fistula
Balance Disorder Diagnosis
Diagnosis of a balance disorder is complicated because there are many kinds of balance disorders and because other medical conditions–including ear infections, blood pressure changes, and some vision problems–and some medications may contribute to a balance disorder. A person experiencing dizziness should see our specialists for an evaluation.
Balance Disorder Treatment
Treatment for balance disorders is determined by the underlying cause. For a disease or disorder that may be contributing to the balance problem, such as ear infection, stroke, or multiple sclerosis, individual treatment will vary and will be based upon symptoms, medical history, general health, examination by a physician and medical test results.
Other treatments include:
- Balance retraining exercises (vestibular rehabilitation) which promote compensation for the disorder.
- Dietary changes may be indicated for conditions such as Meniere’s Disease.
- Talk therapy and/or physical rehabilitation may be recommended for people with anxiety.
Help your Doctor Make a Diagnosis
Take the following steps to our specialists determine a diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Bring a written list of symptoms.
- Bring a list of all medications currently being used for balance disorders.
- Be specific when you describe the nature of your symptoms to your doctor. For example, describe how, when and where you experience dizziness.
Where can I get more information?
Schedule an appointment with one of Denver Ear Associates’ specialists by calling (303) 788-7880.