Any condition whose symptoms make you feel dizzy or unsteady is characterized as a balance disorder. These disorders cause a person to feel as if they are moving, spinning or floating when they are standing, lying or sitting still. While walking, it is common for people to feel as if they are tipping over.
Common Balance Disorders
There are a number of balance disorders. The most common ones include
Labyrinthitis. This condition is an inflammation of the inner ear usually caused by an infection. Its symptoms include vertigo, temporary hearing loss and tinnitus.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). This disorder involves brief but intense periods of vertigo that are triggered by specific changes in head position. It occurs when tiny crystals in the otolith organs become dislodged and migrate to the semicircular canals.
Meniere’s disease. This disease is a chronic condition that causes vertigo, tinnitus, fullness in the ear and fluctuating hearing loss that may eventually become permanent. Meniere’s is usually confined to one ear and though its cause is unknown it may be the result of abnormal fluid buildup in the inner ear.
While balance disorders differ, they do share a lot of the same symptoms, which include:
- Dizziness or a spinning sensation (vertigo)
- Falling or feeling as if you are going to fall
- A floating sensation
- Blurred vision
Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, fear and anxiety or panic attacks.
In order to determine the appropriate treatment plan for you, your audiologist will need to evaluate and diagnose your symptoms. Once determined, they can set up a plan to target the underlying condition in order to reduce or eliminate the symptoms. Options include:
- Medications (antihistamines, sedatives, antibiotics or steroids)
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Repositioning exercises
- Vestibular retraining programs
- Lifestyle modifications (such as dietary changes and elimination of alcohol and nicotine)
Call Audiology Center Northwest at (503) 232-1845 for more information or to schedule an appointment.