Do you often feel dizzy, experience vertigo, trip over things or fear falling over? If so, you may have a balance disorder. Balance disorders are defined as disturbances in your vestibular system. Learn more about balance disorders below.
How Does the Vestibular System Work?
Many of your body parts work together to help you balance:
- Your inner ears contain three semicircular canals and two otolith organs called the utricle and the saccule, which are all filled with fluid and contain tiny hair cells. When you move your body, the fluid moves in response, bending the hair cells. These cells send information to the brain about your movements.
- Your visual system also helps you balance. Visual information is sent to the brain about the body’s position relative to your surroundings.
- The musculoskeletal system also sends information to the brain based on input from your muscles, joints, feet and legs.
The brain takes all of this information to decipher how you’re oriented in space. When there’s an issue with any of these systems, it can result in a balance disorder.
Symptoms of Balance Disorders
There are many possible symptoms of a balance disorder. They include:
- Staggering when trying to walk
- Teetering when trying to stand
- Vertigo (feeling that you or the room around you is spinning)
- Lightheadedness, faintness or a floating sensation
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion or disorientation
Causes of Balance Disorders
It’s common to experience increased balance problems as you age. However, age certainly isn’t the only factor.
Many balance disorders are caused by problems with the inner ear. For example, labyrinthitis occurs when the labyrinth becomes swollen and inflamed, often due to an upper respiratory infection, other viral infection or even a bacterial infection.
Other causes include diseases of the circulatory system, such as a stroke or low blood pressure.
Head injury and certain medications can also cause balance problems.
Importance of Treating a Balance Disorder
The CDC estimates that one in five falls causes a serious injury like a broken bone or head injury. In fact, over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized due to a fall. Balance disorders also affect your quality of life; you should be able to enjoy your life and feel confident visiting the Spanish Fork River Trail without worrying about a fall. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a balance expert, call Timpanogos Hearing & Balance today.