Don’t Let Dizziness Throw Off Your Life’s Balance
Dizziness, loss of balance, and vertigo are the second most common complaints that doctors hear from their patients. According to the National Institutes of Health, dizziness will occur in 70 percent of Americans at some point in their lives. Whether the dizziness is fleeting or chronic may indicate how serious the potential health risks are to you as an individual.
Equilibrium disorders typically fall into two categories:
- Acute attacks of dizziness, vertigo, or a general loss of balance that may last a few seconds or a few hours
- A persistent sense of imbalance, unsteadiness, or what some people refer to as a loss of sure-footedness
Although you may feel helpless when you’re hit with a dizzy spell, there’s plenty of hope and help for many balance problems. First, you must get a proper diagnosis. Treatment options have been enhanced over the last decade, making dizziness a much easier problem to resolve.
Why Am I Losing My Balance?
To help balance your body, your brain requires input from your inner ear, your eyes, and your sense of touch to determine where it is in relation to other objects and the earth. Your brain uses this information to determine what movements your body should make based on what’s going on around you. If any one of the several parts of this complicated system does not work properly, a loss of sure-footedness or problems with movement coordination can take place.
The natural aging process may affect these senses, as well as the central nervous system’s ability to interpret and react to them quickly. Physicians commonly hear complaints that patients can see a curb or step but aren’t able to react quickly enough to keep their balance. With proper diagnosis and therapeutic exercises, like balance retraining or vestibular rehabilitation therapy, many older adults can return to a more active lifestyle.
Facts About Dizziness and Balance
- Loss of balance will affect 90 million Americans at some point during their lives.
- More than 9 million people each year consult their physicians to find solutions to their dizziness, which is the number one complaint for individuals over age 70.
- Balance-related falls account for more than half of all accidental deaths in the elderly population, and they cause more than 300,000 hip fractures each year in individuals over age 65.
- Some balance disorders, like Ménière’s disease, vestibular migraine syndrome, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), can have similar symptoms. Because of how they may affect an individual’s ability to stand, walk, see clearly, think clearly, read, watch television, and make decisions, these disorders can be misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis and clinical depression.
- Children with treatable balance disorders are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as learning disabled, dyslexic, or psychologically disturbed.
- Migraine, BPPV, head trauma, and whiplash are frequent causes of dizziness.
- Ear infections can also cause vestibular disorders.
Allegany Hearing & Balance Center provides expert assessment of balance disorders. We have state of the art diagnostic equipment typically found only in larger metropolitan areas. We do VNG, v-HIT, VEMP, rotary chair, ECochG, ABR, and other advanced testing to diagnose all types of balance disorders.
Learn more about what to expect during balance tests:
VNG is a series of tests that involve tracking a light with your eyes while wearing a set of goggles with a camera in them to track your eye movement. We will also have you lie on your back and on your sides, and then gently put a mild stream of air with slightly cool and warm air into your ears. These tests can tell us if the cause of your balance problem is coming from your ears or from your brain, and if the balance organs are working equally in each ear.
We are proud to have this technology at Allegany Hearing & Balance as it is typically only found in very large metropolitan areas or in research centers. This simple but extremely important test involves comfortably sitting in a chair while wearing goggles, then being gently rotated a couple times for about a minute. This test records eye movement in response to the rotation, and tells us if the ears are working together, if one is weaker than the other, or if the brain is involved in the balance problem.
v-HIT (Vestibular Head Impulse Test)
v-HIT involves wearing a set of small goggles then staring at a small target while we move your head in different directions. This test is capable of testing all six of the ear’s balance canals and can tell us if one balance system is weaker than the other. It can also tell us how effective your balance rehabilitation was in your recovery.
VEMP (Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential)
This is a simple test that involves putting electrodes on your forehead, neck, and sometimes face. You then turn your head one direction, then the other while we look at waveforms generated by your movement. This test evaluates the saccule and utricle in the inner ear and can tell us specific information about the possible cause of your balance issue.
ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response)
This test involves having electrodes put on your forehead and behind each ear, then relaxing and listening to a loud clicking noise. This very important test is looking at the auditory system past the ear and up the brainstem into the higher brain regions. This test can tell us if there might be a lesion effecting the hearing and/or balance system.
This test also involves having electrodes put on your forehead and inserts placed in your ears, similar to a hearing test, then relaxing and listening to a loud clicking noise. This test can indicate if there is a problem with the cochlea such as Menieres Disease.
Please contact us today for a consultation of your unique dizziness and balance difficulties.
We treat Benign Paroxysmal Positioning Vertigo (BPPV) at Allegany Hearing & Balance. We have various methods we use depending on what we feel will be most appropriate for you and your specific type of BPPV.
Most treatments are simple, quick, and effective in eliminating your symptoms. We strongly discourage you from treating yourself at home with a method you may have found online. There is the possibility that you may do the maneuver incorrectly and actually make your symptoms worse.
Self-Quiz for Dizziness or Balance Problems
Does the room spin when you lie down or change positions, e.g., getting in or out of bed?
Can you walk in the dark without difficulty or hanging on to things?
Do you often feel that you are not sure-footed?
Do you sometimes stagger when you walk?
Do you have a fear of falling?
Have you fallen as a result of being off balance or dizzy?
Do you have difficulty keeping your balance when changing surfaces, e.g., walking from a driveway onto uneven grass?
Does looking at moving objects like an escalator bother you?
Do you fear driving because of your dizziness?
Do you have numbness in your hands or feet?If you answered yes to one of these questions, schedule your balance evaluation today