Balance disorders are a relatively common condition which can have a significant impact on a person’s wellbeing.
Symptoms that can be associated with a balance disorder include dizziness, disorientation or vertigo (a sensation of movement in the absence of movement). It can also be accompanied by headaches, nausea, sweating and swaying Hearing Loss and Tinnitus.
Along with the Cochlea, the organ that senses sounds, the Inner Ear contains the Vestibule – a complex organ that provides the brain with information that creates an individual’s sense of balance, direction and spatial orientation (awareness). The brain uses information from the Vestibule, as well as vision and the body’s sense of position of self and movement (known medically as proprioception) to determine where the body is in space.
When there is a problem with the balance system, it means something is affecting your ability to maintain normal balance. However, not all of the conditions that can cause balance problems result from problems within the Vestibule.
Causes of Vertigo
Some of the more common Inner Ear conditions that can cause vertigo are:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo – a condition of the Inner Ear that creates a spinning sensation with particular movements;
- Labyrinthitis – a condition of the Inner Ear that can cause Vertigo, Hearing Loss and Tinnitus; and
- Meniere’s Disease.
There are many non-vestibule related factors that can cause the condition including:
- Alcohol consumption
- The presence of other health conditions and injuries
- Motion sickness
- Sudden head movements.
As there are multiple factors that can cause balance problems, how it can be treated will depend on what these causes are in each unique case. In general, common balance problems treatments may involve some form of physical therapy that can involve a series of exercises to improve overall balance function, or, depending on the condition, re-positioning manoeuvres to restore balance. The use of prescribed medications is also sometimes used.
If you are experiencing balance problems, make an appointment to see your local GP who can then refer you to a balance specialist. A balance specialist can assess your overall balance function and can provide you with some effective treatment options to help you manage your balance difficulties.