Balance Disorders/Dizziness

What are Balance Disorders?

A person may be suffering from a balance disorder when he/she suffers repeated episodes of dizziness, or has trouble orienting themselves after rising suddenly. A balance disorder can be caused by a number of things, including illness, injury, other medical conditions, medication or aging, but typically involves a problem or injury of the inner ear.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of a balance disorder may include:

  • A feeling of vertigo (sense that you or your surroundings are in motion)
  • Loss of balance
  • Faintness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disorientation

See your doctor immediately if you also experience any of the following:

  • Severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Impaired speech
  • Numbness
  • Chest pain

Causes of Balance Disorders or Dizziness

A balance disorder or dizziness may have a variety of causes. Following are some of the more common causes:

  • Vertigo – a sense of movement caused by a problem in the inner ear
  • Inner ear – inflammation or infection of the inner ear
  • Meniere’s Disease – disease involving a buildup of fluid in the inner ear
  • Acoustic neuroma – a benign growth on the acoustic nerve, located in the inner ear
  • Blood pressure – a sudden drop in blood pressure can cause dizziness and/or loss of balance
  • Changes in motion – dizziness can occur from riding an airplane, a rollercoaster, or any time you change directions suddenly
  • Other medical conditions – other conditions such as arrhythmia, common cold, or even pregnancy have been known to cause dizziness

Diagnosing Balance Disorders

If you experience symptoms and seek medical attention, you doctor will review your symptoms and your medical history and complete a physical exam to determine the cause of your symptoms. He/she will ask questions in order to determine the sort of dizziness you are experiencing and any contributing factors. Additional tests may be prescribed depending upon your particular symptoms.

Treatment Options

Treatment will depend upon the cause of the dizziness. Treatment options may include:

  • Canalith repositioning – This is a simple, non-invasive procedure your doctor may perform to treat vertigo. It is about 90% effective.
  • Antibiotics – medication may be used to clear up inner ear infections
  • Lifestyle changes – treating Meniere’s disease may reuire sharp reduction in fluids and a low-salt diet
  • Surgery – occasionally required to treat Meniere’s disease or to remove a growth
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