A balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy. If you are standing, sitting or lying down, you might feel as if you are moving, spinning or floating. If you are walking, you might suddenly feel as if you are tipping over.
Everyone has a dizzy spell now and then, but the term “dizziness” can mean different things to different people. For one person, dizziness might mean a fleeting feeling of faintness, while for another it could be an intense sensation of spinning (vertigo) that lasts a long time.
Experts believe that more than 4 out of 10 Americans, sometime in their lives, will experience an episode of dizziness significant enough to send them to a doctor.
Balance disorders can be caused by certain health conditions, medications, or a problem in the inner ear or the brain. A balance disorder can profoundly impact daily activities and cause psychological and emotional hardship.
What are the symptoms of a balance disorder?
If you have a balance disorder, you may stagger when you try to walk, or teeter or fall when you try to stand up.
You might experience other symptoms such as:
- Dizziness or vertigo (a spinning sensation)
- Falling or feeling as if you are going to fall
- Lightheadedness, faintness or a floating sensation
- Blurred vision
- Confusion or disorientation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
Symptoms may come and go over short time periods or last for a long time, and can lead to fatigue and depression.
What causes balance disorders?
There are many causes of balance problems, such as medications, ear infections, a head injury or anything else that affects the inner ear or brain.
Low blood pressure can lead to dizziness when you stand up too quickly.
Problems that affect the skeletal or visual systems, such as arthritis or eye muscle imbalance, can also cause balance disorders.
Your risk of having balance problems increases as you get older. Unfortunately, many balance disorders start suddenly and with no obvious cause. Learn More.
For more information on balance/vertigo, please contact one our Ear, Nose & Throat providers.