What Causes Balance Problems?
It’s scary to feel light-headed or like you’re spinning out of control and are going to fall – especially if you fear breaking a bone or losing consciousness. There are a number of medical issues that could cause balance problems, but luckily there are tests that can determine why you have this concern and ways to control it.
You may have a balance disorder if you feel like you’re moving even though you aren’t. It’s a sense of floating or spinning that makes it seem as if you’re going to fall. Our sense of balance is controlled by a place in the inner ear called a labyrinth, connected to an elaborate structure called the vestibular system. The vestibular system is responsible for some of our sensory perceptions such as our eyes.
When this intricate system gets out of sync, a balance disorder may occur. It could be caused by a viral or bacterial ear infection, problems with blood circulation or a head injury. Various medications can also cause dizziness and aging can also cause balance problems. Balance problems can begin suddenly and there may not be a reason that you can pinpoint.
That’s why it’s important that you see your health care provider right away so that he can diagnose the problem and help restore your balance. Some types of balance disorders include:
- Vertigo – Vertigo may occur when you merely turn your head. That’s because part of your vestibular system, the cupula, doesn’t tilt as it should. This malady sometimes happens as one ages or the cause could be a head injury.
- Vestibular neuronitis – You may experience vertigo (dizziness when you turn your head) because of an inflammation of the vestibular nerve caused by a virus.
- MdDS (Mal de debarquement syndrome) – Sometimes simply called sea-sickness, MdDS affects some people on an ocean cruise. It causes nausea, feelings of rocking to and fro and can last a few hours, days or even months after returning to land.
- Leakage of inner fluid (Perilymph fistula) – You may experience balance problems if you have a leakage of inner ear fluid into the middle ear. Many situations can cause the disorder – change in atmospheric pressure, ear infection, head injury or ear surgery. Nausea and dizziness may occur.
- Upper respiratory infection (Labyrinthitis) – An infection of the inner ear that can cause dizziness or loss of balance.
These are some of the most common causes of balance problems, and if you’re experiencing some or all of these symptoms you should see your health care provider immediately before a fall occurs.
If you see a general practitioner, he or she may want you to see an ENT doctor – a physician who specializes in disorders of the ear, nose and throat. Depending on your health status, the ENT doctor may order tests to better diagnose the cause of your balance problem. Once diagnosed, your doctor may simply give you a prescription for medication or suggest ways to deal with chronic balance problems on a daily basis.