Do you often feel dizzy, lightheaded, faint, as if you’re spinning or like you might fall over? If so, you may have a balance disorder. Balance disorders are caused by a disturbance in your vestibular system, which consists of your eyes, ears, muscles, joints and nerves, all of which send signals to your brain about how you’re oriented in space.
Causes of Balance Disorders
It’s common for people to begin experiencing balance problems as they age; however, age is not the only reason someone may experience imbalance.
Many balance disorders stem from problems with the inner ear. Within the inner ear are three semicircular canals, which are filled with fluid and lined with tiny hair cells. As your head and body move, the fluid sloshes around, moving the hairs, which send electrical signals to the brain about your movements.
If calcium crystals become dislodged and float around the semicircular canals, this can trigger episodes of dizziness and vertigo. This condition is known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Another inner ear disorder is labyrinthitis, which occurs when the labyrinth becomes swollen and inflamed, usually due to an upper respiratory infection or other viral infection.
Other causes of balance disorders include stroke, low blood pressure, head injury, ear infection, certain medications and arthritis. In many cases, the precise cause cannot be identified.
Symptoms of Balance Disorders
Balance disorders usually cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including:
- Vertigo (feeling that you or the room around you is spinning)
- Lightheadedness/feeling faint
- Feeling off-balance/as though you might fall
- Floating sensation
- Blurred vision
- Changes in heart rate/blood pressure
Symptoms can come on quickly and may be short-lived or last hours.
Risks of an Untreated Balance Disorder
Having an untreated balance disorder puts you at serious risk for a fall, especially if you’re a senior. According to the CDC, more than one out of four older adults experiences a fall each year, and falling once doubles your chances of falling again. It is estimated that one in five falls causes a serious injury, like a head injury or broken bone, which can greatly affect mobility, independence and quality of life. If you’re ready to live life without fearing falling while enjoying outdoor socially-distanced time with family at Kiwanis Park, schedule an appointment with a balance expert. Call Hampton Roads ENT today.