Dizziness or loss of balance is a common complaint heard in doctor’s offices. While the sensation of being dizzy can be unsettling, any problems with your equilibrium may actually indicate serious health concerns and can dramatically increase the risk of injury from falls. At Advanced Audiology Institute, we provide expert assessment of balance disorders, which often have their origin in the vestibular system of the inner ear.
How Does The Vestibular System Work?
Many people are surprised to learn that the system that regulates our balance is actually located within our ears. Called the vestibular system, it is made up of several semicircular canals which together are referenced as the labyrinth. By functioning with our visual system, skeletal systems, brain, and nervous system, the labyrinth helps our body to be aware of where it’s at during periods of movement or rest.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Balance Disorder?
Balance disorders affect our orientation, so individuals who struggle with vestibular symptoms might feel like things are spinning and may not be able to walk without falling. Common symptoms of a vestibular disorder include:
- A sensation of dizziness or vertigo (spinning)
- Falling or a feeling of falling
- Lightheadedness, faintness, or feeling woozy
- Blurry vision
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Changes in heart rate or blood pressure
- Fear, anxiety, or panic
What Causes A Balance Disorder?
Balance disorders can come from a variety of causes, including bacterial or viral infections, head injuries, blood circulation disorders, certain medications, or aging. Others who have illnesses or injuries affecting their visual or skeletal systems can also suffer from vestibular problems. In general, a balance disorder stems from problems in any one of these 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
Vestibular Testing And Treatment
Since balance disorders affect patients in different ways and are the result of any number of factors, vestibular testing can include a variety of tests to determine the underlying cause. In most cases, a primary physician will work in conjunction with an otolaryngologist and audiologist to examine a patient’s medical history, and may request a hearing test, blood test, videonystagmography, or imaging of the head.
Treatment for vestibular disorders can also take a variety of forms depending on the cause and the symptoms exhibited by the patient. If the balance issue is related to a disease or disorder like a stroke or multiple sclerosis, treatment for these conditions will help. At Advanced Audiology Institute, our patients may also undergo balance retraining exercises called vestibular rehabilitation. It includes movements of the head and body that are aimed to help compensate for the disorder. Changes in one’s diet or the addition of supplements can also help.
Dizziness and its related symptoms can have a significant impact on your daily life and can easily lead to injury if not addressed. Our audiologists take the time to educate and evaluate our patients, and have the expertise to offer the best options for going forward.
If you’re experiencing dizziness, vertigo, or issues with balance, contact our office to get more information on how we can best serve you and your recovery.