An estimated 35 percent of Americans age 40 or older — 109 million Americans — experience a vestibular disorder such as vertigo or persistent dizziness at some point in their life, according to the Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA). However; despite this staggering statistic, adult balance disorders are often underdiagnosed and undertreated, causing the disorder to develop into a chronic vestibular disorder in many adults.
Dizziness can be a symptom of many different diseases and disorder, and it’s important to differentiate between the various types of dizziness for proper diagnosis. Frequent episodes of vertigo that can last from a few seconds to a few days are of greater concern than something fleeting, such as a head rush, and a proper diagnosis can help with that. Unfortunately, no matter how severe these symptoms may be, many people who consistently experience vertigo are unaware that it’s actually a condition — and one that can be treated by your local hearing and balance center. They just aren’t sure where to start.
In order to better understand this condition, it helps to recognize the symptoms. Disequilibrium is a common feeling for those with a vestibular disorder, and it is defined as an unsteadiness and imbalance that is often accompanied by spatial disorientation. Individuals who suffer from a vestibular disorder often feel this way, and they may frequently stumble and have difficulty walking a straight line or turning a corner. Other common symptoms include visual-spatial problems, excessive clumsiness, poor hand-eye and eye-foot coordination, trouble moving in the dark, and difficulty reading or concentrating.
However, another key symptom of vestibular disorders that many people overlook is related to their hearing. Hearing impairment and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) often accompany balance disorders. This is because an organ in our inner ear known as the labyrinth is an essential component to our vestibular system. If it is damaged or impaired, the labyrinth is unable to properly interact with other systems throughout the body, such as the visual and skeletal systems, which can lead to problems maintaining balance.
Fortunately, conditions related to hearing loss and tinnitus are very treatable, which in turn can help relieve your symptoms of vertigo. If you suffer from bouts of dizziness or more severe and chronic issues with balance, it is recommended to visit your local hearing and balance center for a diagnosis right away. Treating balance disorders during their early stages greatly improves the probably of success, and can help prevent chronic vestibular disorders from developing in the future.
Balance Awareness Week is September 15 to 21. Those who’d like to help are encouraged to become sponsors, be active in promoting Balance Awareness Week on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, and contact us at 801-770-0801.