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Balance problems cause dizziness and make you feel as though you are spinning or moving when you are actually standing or sitting still. As a result, you may not feel well and this may interfere with your daily life. Balance issues can lead to falls, which may cause broken bones and other injuries.
There are different types of balance problems:
Causes of balance problems include:
You may be at risk for balance problems if you are on medication, suffering from a viral infection, experiencing inner ear problems, or recovering from a head injury. If you are over 65 and have arthritis or high/low blood pressure, your risk for balance problems is higher. Traveling on a boat or ship may also cause temporary balance problems.
The primary symptoms of balance problems are dizziness and the feeling that the room is spinning. It may be difficult to walk without falling. Other symptoms include:
Balance problems are difficult to address because they may be caused by numerous factors. Your doctor may ask about your symptoms and conduct a review of your medical history for related conditions and medications.
In some cases, you may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist who will run the following tests to pinpoint the cause and intensity of the problem:
Balance problems are sometimes corrected by addressing an underlying health condition. They may be treated with medication, surgery, dietary changes, physical therapy and/or exercises you can do at home.
If you have Meniere’s disease, your doctor may recommend surgery on the vestibular system, which makes up your inner ear and affects your balance.
To relieve vertigo, your doctor may prescribe activities that can be done at home or with the help of a rehabilitation therapist. A common technique that can be performed at home is the Epley maneuver, which involves sitting up and then quickly resting on your back and turning your head to one side. After a couple of minutes, you sit back up. You are typically shown this technique in the doctor’s office and can repeat it at home to reduce or eliminate dizziness.
If the cause of the balance problem is unknown, your doctor might instruct you on various ways to reduce your risk of injury. You may require assistance when using the restroom or climbing stairs. It is generally best to avoid driving if the condition is severe. Using a cane or handrails at home may be necessary.
Your doctor might also make recommendations to address your overall health. These might include exercising, quitting smoking, limiting caffeine and alcohol, reducing your salt intake, and eating well-balanced meals.
Balance problems can be temporary or a long-term issue depending on what causes them. If you have an ear infection or have just traveled on a boat, the condition generally clears up in time with treatment. However, if the cause is unknown or the issues are a result of chronic conditions or aging, the symptoms may continue indefinitely.
Most balance problems are difficult to prevent. However, you can address those associated with blood pressure issues. Prevent low blood pressure by drinking more water and avoiding alcohol. Avoid high blood pressure by exercising, limiting your salt intake, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Written by: Chitra Badii and Marijane Leonard
Published on: Jul 25, 2012on: Mar 08, 2016
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