Balance & Dizziness

Balance disorders and dizziness can stem from a variety of underlying conditions, injuries, or issues.

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Experiencing issues related to balance and dizziness can be distressing. Such disorders can cause symptoms like dizziness, vertigo, and unsteadiness, leading to an increased risk of falling. In this article, we delve into the world of balance disorders, their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

The Balance System: An Overview

Our balance system is a complex structure that helps us navigate our surroundings without falling. It involves a delicate interplay between the brain, the eyes, the inner ear (which houses the vestibular system), and various other body parts like muscles, joints, and skin.

The inner ear, in particular, plays a crucial role in maintaining our balance. It comprises three essential parts - the outer, middle, and inner ear. The inner ear is home to the cochlea and the vestibular system, which is responsible for sending information about balance, motion, and the location of your head and body to your brain.

The vestibular system includes three loops in your inner ear, called semicircular canals. These canals sense different types of motion: up-and-down, side-to-side, and tilting. Inside each canal are fluid and hair cells that send messages to your brain when your head or body moves. This information, in conjunction with what you see, hear, and sense with your body, helps you maintain your balance.

However, problems with these systems can lead to balance disorders and related symptoms like dizziness and vertigo.

Recognizing Balance Disorders and Dizziness

Balance disorders can significantly impact your life, making you more prone to falling and experiencing uncomfortable symptoms like dizziness and unsteadiness.

The symptoms of balance disorders can vary, presenting themselves all the time or only occasionally. They may occur suddenly or be triggered by specific actions, such as a change in position, head movement, or visual or sound stimulation.

Common symptoms of balance disorders include:

  • Difficulty walking and moving around
  • Dizziness
  • Falling
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Motion sickness
  • Nausea
  • Unsteadiness
  • Vertigo (a sensation that the room is spinning)
  • Visual problems (blurry vision)

Causes of Balance Disorders

Balance disorders and dizziness can stem from a variety of underlying conditions, injuries, or issues. These may include:

  • Cardiovascular or circulation problems
  • Head injury (traumatic brain injury, or TBI)
  • Injury to the ear or vestibular system
  • Inner ear disorders
  • Medication side effects
  • Neurological diseases or disorders
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Surgeries, such as cochlear implant placement
  • Tumors on the acoustic nerve
  • Viruses and other infections

It's crucial to identify the cause of balance problems to prescribe the most effective treatment.

Diagnosing Balance Disorders

Diagnosing balance disorders can be challenging as the symptoms might be a manifestation of a larger health issue. Therefore, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional if you experience any concerning symptoms, such as blurred vision, sudden hearing loss, falls, or problems walking.

Healthcare professionals, such as audiologists, can conduct specialized balance tests to identify the root causes of balance problems and/or dizziness. Based on the results, they can recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

Treating Balance Disorders

Treatment for balance disorders will largely depend on the underlying cause. In some cases, medical management, such as surgery or medication, may be necessary.

Vestibular rehabilitation, a form of balance treatment, can also be beneficial. It involves specific exercises that involve movements of the head, eyes, and/or body to improve balance and reduce dizziness. At Southwest Balance Dizziness & Ear Institute, we specialize in Advanced Vestibular Treatment® (AVT).

Living with Balance Disorders

Living with a balance disorder can be challenging, and in some cases, the dizziness might not be fully treatable. In these instances, it's important to learn how to cope with the symptoms.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapists can help develop an individualized treatment plan to manage symptoms. It's also crucial to discuss with your doctor whether it's safe to drive and ways to lower your risk of falling during daily activities.

Types of Balance Disorders

There are more than a dozen different balance disorders. Some of the most common are:

  1. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): A brief, intense episode of vertigo triggered by a specific change in the position of the head.
  2. Labyrinthitis: An infection or inflammation of the inner ear causing dizziness and loss of balance. It is often associated with an upper respiratory infection, such as the flu.
  3. Ménière's disease: Episodes of vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ear), and a feeling of fullness in the ear. It may be associated with a change in fluid volume within parts of the labyrinth.
  4. Vestibular neuronitis: An inflammation of the vestibular nerve that can be caused by a virus, primarily causing vertigo.
  5. Perilymph fistula: A leakage of inner ear fluid into the middle ear causing unsteadiness, dizziness, and nausea.

When to Seek Help

It's important to seek medical help for dizziness or balance problems if you experience symptoms like unsteadiness, a spinning sensation, a feeling of falling, blurred vision, or disorientation. Being proactive about seeking help can prevent further complications and improve your quality of life.

Your Partner in Balance and Dizziness Disorders

At Southwest Balance, we specialize in treating balance and dizziness disorders. Our team of expert audiologists is dedicated to providing patient-centered care to help you understand your balance system and address your balance problems. Reach out to us today, and let's walk this journey towards better balance together.

"I was a bit nervous to have my hearing and balance tested. However, the doctors and staff made me feel comfortable. It was a comprehensive analysis of my hearing and balance. I am very grateful for the care that the doctors took in addressing all of my hearing and balance issues."
James E.
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Conveniently located near the intersection of 7th Street and Indian School Road.

Southwest Balance, Dizziness & Ear Institute (formerly Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids)

4004 N 7th St.Phoenix, AZ 85014