Do you ever find yourself missing your step or feeling dizzy? It could be that you have a balance disorder. There are a number of things that could cause a balance disorder, but don’t worry, there are a number of ways in which they can be treated.
What is a balance disorder?
A balance disorder is characterized by a feeling of giddiness, dizziness, or vertigo. Sometimes the patient might have a feeling of spinning or floating, or feel woozy and unsteady on their feet. These feelings are caused by a disturbance of the vestibular system, which is what controls our balance. An important part of this system is the labyrinth, an organ located in the inner ear. This clever organ works alongside the eyes, the brain, and even your body to tell you which way up you are, whether you are moving, as well as keeping your vision focused while you are moving and keeping you upright and balanced.
If something goes wrong with this system, through infection or injury, it is easy to see how feelings of dizziness and disorientation could be felt. Serious balance disorders can also cause symptoms such as nausea, loss of concentration, faintness, and changes in blood pressure. If you’ve ever been on a boat on a stormy ocean, you will have some understanding of these feelings.
Causes of balance disorders
A balance disorder can be caused by one of four different areas.
- Peripheral vestibular disorder is caused by a disturbance in the labyrinth – that organ in the inner ear.
- Central vestibular disorder is caused by a problem with the brain or the nerves connected to it.
- Systemic disorder is where the problem stems from a part of the body other than the head or brain.
- Vascular disorder is where a problem with blood flow can cause balance issues.
Some common balance disorders you might have heard of include Ménière’s disease, which is caused by a problem with the inner ear fluid. Or maybe Labyrinthitis, which is where the inner ear is infected or inflamed. There’s also a perilymph fistula, where the inner ear fluid leaks into the middle ear. These disorders are sometimes identified when visiting an Audiologist. These hearing doctors have years of training and experience in dealing with all aspects of the ears, and can use a variety of tests to investigate balance problems.
Treatment for balance disorders
The treatment needed for a balance disorder will depend on what is causing it. If there is an infection, it could be a simple case of a course of antibiotics, but many balance disorders will require more in-depth treatment.
Balance retraining exercises, known as vestibular rehabilitation, are often used for patients with balance problems. A trained professional will help the patient with special exercises involving movements of the head and body that will retrain the brain and vestibular system.
If you are interested in finding out more about your hearing and possible balance disorders, contact one of the best audiologists in Laurens. Leave your details and we will call you to schedule an appointment.