What are balance disorders?
The most common balance disorders include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis/vestibular neuritis, and Ménière’s disease.
These disorders all relate to abnormalities in your vestibular system, which includes the areas of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. If disease or injury damages these processing areas, vestibular disorders can result. These balance disorders can also result from or be worsened by genetic or environmental conditions, or occur for unknown reasons.
How can you prevent balance disorders?
Unfortunately, conditions like BPPV cannot be prevented. However, in cases that result from head injury, BPPV may have been prevented had better head protection been in place to prevent the injury from occurring. It is always smart to protect your head—especially when riding a bicycle or playing contact sports.
The cause of labyrinthitis/vestibular neuritis and Ménière’s disease is not known. However, your risk for developing such disorders can be increased if you’ve had any of the following:
- Viral infection.
- Viral infection.
- Autoimmune disorder.
- Head injury.
- A member of your family has Ménière’s disease.
Diagnosis & Treatment Options
The main symptom of any of these disorders is a change in balance, dizziness, and problems walking or standing.
Your healthcare provider can tell if you have a balance disorder by doing a physical exam and analyzing your health history. Other tests, such as an electronystagmography, CT scan or an MRI, can be performed to check for other underlying problems.
Preparing for Care
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Loss of consciousness.
- Symptoms of stroke (numbness, tingling, weakness, loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg on one side of your body), sudden problems with vision, speaking, walking, or sudden severe headache.
- Chest pain.
- Headache, stiff neck and fever.
- Have had a recent head injury.
Schedule an appointment with your provider if you experience:
- Vertigo (the feeling that you or your surroundings are spinning).
- Nausea and vomiting, induced by dizziness or vertigo.
- Poor balance or trouble walking or standing.
- Low roaring, ringing, or hissing in your ear (tinnitus).
- Hearing loss.
- Pressure in your ear.