Dr. Michael Heublum - MD

Balance disorders impact millions of Americans annually. You may not immediately recognize the symptoms of a disorder. We will discuss balance issues necessitating medical help for a potential balance disorder.

What is a balance disorder?

A balance disorder causes feelings of dizziness or instability. You may feel as if the room is turning or if you cannot remain upright. These feelings can occur even when seated or lying down.

What are the symptoms of a balance disorder?

Dizziness and lightheadedness are the main symptoms of a balance disorder. The following also can signal a balance disorder:
An unsteady gait
An apprehension of falling or falling down
Loss of bearing
Inability to see clearly
What causes balance disorders?

Anything injuring or disrupting the inner ear or the brain can cause balance issues. Some causes include side effects of medicine and head injuries. Low blood pressure can lead to balance disorders, especially while standing. Damage or irregularities with the eye muscles can lead to balance disorders. Many balance disorders occur without a clear cause.

How does my body keep its balance?

The inner ear, eyes, and brain control your balance. Three ducts in the semicircular canal of the inner ear signal your head’s rotation to the brain. Fluid movement in pouches in the parts of the ear known as the utricle and the saccule tells the brain your head’s position in relation to gravity. Along with your vision, these structures help keep your body balanced at all times.

What are some types of balance disorders?
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). One of the more common balance disorders, BPPV, induces dizziness. Caused by a malfunction in the inner ear, the dizziness may occur with head movement.
Labyrinthitis. Caused by an infection in the inner ear, Labyrinthitis causes dizziness. It can occur in conjunction with the flu or other common illnesses.
Perilymph fistula. This condition occurs when fluid leaks into the inner ear. Activity aggravates the condition. Instability, and occasionally nausea, result.
How are balance disorders diagnosed?

Otolaryngologists and audiologists diagnose balance issues. An otolaryngologist treats the ear, head, neck, and throat. The provider may run a series of tests to assist with the diagnosis. One test, a nystagmogram, measures eye movement and the muscles impacting eye movement. Other tests include posturography and rotational chair testing.

How are balance disorders treated?

First, your physician will rule out side effects of mediation or other illnesses as a cause. After that, treatment will depend on the type of balance disorder diagnosed. BPPV may disappear after the doctor performs the Epley maneuver, a simple head movement. Other disorders may require medication and lifestyle changes.

When should I seek help if I think I have a balance disorder?

You should seek help if you feel dizzy, unstable, lose your balance, or fall. Other symptoms requiring medical care include blurry vision, lightheadedness, and disorientation. Contact us if you experience any of these symptoms.