Balance Disorder (Dizziness)
A balance disorder is a complex condition that causes feelings of unsteadiness, wooziness and sensations of spinning, moving or floating. Part of the inner ear known as the labyrinth interacts with other body systems like the eyes, bones and joints to maintain balance. Problems within the vestibular (ear), brain or nervous systems can cause balance problems, which affect over 2 million people each year.
Symptoms of Balance Disorder
- Motion sickness
- Blurry vision
Common symptoms like nausea, vomiting, faintness, anxiety and panic can also occur.
Balance disorders are often the result of another medical condition which may be minor or severe. These conditions usually affect either the visual, vestibular or general sensory system or the brain. Some of these causes can include infections, injuries, blood circulation disorders, medications and aging.
Diagnosing a balance disorder can be a complicated procedure. Since dizziness and vertigo are symptoms of so many conditions, it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause. Your doctor may perform a series of audiologic, vestibular and movement tests depending on your symptoms. Identifying the underlying cause and the type of balance disorder are both important in successful treatment.
Main Causes Of Dizziness
As stated Above, dizziness can result from disorders from different parts of the body. These Specific symptoms are typically the main cause.
Vertigo is described as the sensation of movement, it can result in the following:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) (change of position)
- Inner-ear inflammation
- Meniere's disease (buildup of fluid in inner ear)
- Vestibular migraine
- Acoustic neuroma (benign growth on inner-ear nerve)
Vertigo is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and balancing issues.
Also know as being lightheaded, this can be accompanied by nausea, clammy hands, and paleness to the skin. More often than not, it is usually caused by drops in blood pressure ( also known as orthostatic hypotension) or simply put inadequate blood output towards the heart. This can result from problems with the heart muscle, such as a abnormal heart rhythm or cardiomyopathy.
The sense of being off balance or also know as disequilibrium, may give people the feeling they are about to fall. It can result in in:
- Vestibular problems with the inner ear
- Peripheral neuropathy, common in older patients
- Muscle weakness, and osteoarthritis of the joints
- Neurological conditions (such as Parkinson's disease)
- Side effects of medications (such as sedatives or tranquilizers)
The sensation of disequilibrium may be more pronounced when the patient is in the dark.
Floating, Swimming or Spaciness
Sometimes, dizziness may feel like you are floating, swimming, or even "spacing out." We usually assume other causes such as inner ear disorders or low blood pressure have been ruled out, which means these sensations may be caused by the following:
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Anemia (low blood-iron levels)
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Dehydration or overheating
Different Types of Balance Disorder:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) - feelings of vertigo after specific position changes of the head
- Labyrinthitis - dizziness and loss of balance caused by an infection or inflammation of the inner ear
- Meniere's disease - vertigo, hearing loss and ringing in the ears caused by an inner ear fluid imbalance
- Vestibular neuronitis - vestibular nerve infection
- Perilymph fistula - inner ear fluid leakage caused by physical injury or exertion
What Are The Danger Signs of Dizziness?
Dizziness is usually quick, transient and usually a unharmful condition, but it can be also a sign of a serious disorder. If dizziness is accompanied by the following, you may require immediate medical attention. Some of these conditions include:
- Trauma to the head
- Painful and unusual headaches
- Stiff neck
- Blurry vision or hearing loss
- Difficult to speak
- weakness of the limbs
- falling and trouble walking
- losing consciousness
These symptoms coupled with dizziness could be caused by severe problems that include a stroke or brain tumor, this will require immediate attention.
Treatment For Balance Disorders
Treatment for a balance disorder can depend on the root of the issue and its causes. After identifying the cause, treatments from our experienced professionals often eliminates the balance problem. Surgery may be recommended for patients whose symptoms cannot be controlled by more conservative methods. The following treatments may also help to relieve symptoms:
- Balance-training exercises
- Lifestyle changes, such as limiting alcohol and caffeine
- Antibiotics for ear infections
- Anti-vertigo and anti-nausea medications
Managing these complex conditions require staying informed and working together with your doctor in order to receive effective treatment