If you experience dizziness, imbalance or vertigo, you have a balance problem. It’s important to seek treatment for a balance problem right away, as left untreated it can impact your quality of life or even cause injury due to a fall. Below is everything you need to know about balance problems.
What Are the Symptoms of a Balance Disorder?
Signs and symptoms of balance disorders include:
- Feeling as if you or the room around you is spinning (vertigo)
- Faintness or lightheadedness (presyncope)
- Unsteadiness or loss of balance
- Falling or feeling that you might fall
- Floating sensation
- Blurry vision
What Causes Balance Problems?
There are many conditions that can cause balance problems. These include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): caused by calcium crystals that become dislodged and move about the inner ear, sending incorrect signals to the brain.
- Vestibular neuritis: an inflammatory disorder usually caused by a virus affecting the nerves in the inner ear.
- Meniere’s disease: associated with fluid buildup in the ear that triggers dizzy spells, hearing loss, tinnitus and pain/pressure in the ears.
- Acoustic neuroma: a benign tumor that develops on the auditory nerve.
- Migraine: a common cause of dizziness that also causes sensitivity to motion, light and sound.
- Head injury: concussions commonly cause dizziness.
- Motion sickness: common for people with migraines, most often occurs in boats, cars, airplanes and amusement park rides.
- Cardiovascular disease: abnormal heart rhythms, narrowed blood vessels and decrease in blood volume can cause lightheadedness.
- Vestibular problems: abnormalities in the inner ear can cause unsteadiness or a floating sensation.
- Medications: many medications list dizziness as a side effect.
- Neurological conditions: disorders like cervical spondylosis and Parkinson’s disease can cause dizzy spells.
Diagnosing Balance Problems
It is often difficult to uncover the exact cause of your dizziness because there are so many factors that affect balance. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and review your medical history in order to uncover the source of your balance problem.
You may be referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist for testing, including:
- Blood tests
- Hearing tests
- Eye movement tests
- Imaging scans of your brain (MRI or CT)
- Posturography (study of your posture)
For more information or to schedule an evaluation by an expert ENT physician, call the University of the Pacific today.