Balance

Grandfather with childDizzi­ness or loss of bal­ance is the sec­ond most com­mon com­plaint heard in doc­tors’ offices. Nation­al Insti­tute of Health sta­tis­tics indi­cate dizzi­ness will occur in 70 per­cent of the nation’s pop­u­la­tion at some point in their lives. Acute or chron­ic prob­lems with equi­lib­ri­um may indi­cate seri­ous health risks or lim­it a person’s every­day liv­ing.

Equi­lib­ri­um dis­or­ders fall into two cat­e­gories. The first cat­e­go­ry is dizzi­ness, ver­ti­go, or motion intol­er­ance that may occur in acute or sharp attacks last­ing any­where from a few sec­onds to sev­er­al hours. This con­di­tion may be caused or wors­ened by rapid head move­ments, turn­ing too quick­ly, walk­ing or rid­ing. The sec­ond cat­e­go­ry is a per­sis­tent sense of imbal­ance, unsteadi­ness, or what some peo­ple refer to as a loss of sure­foot­ed­ness.

Good news is diag­no­sis and treat­ment options have become more effec­tive over the past 10 years. There is hope for many indi­vid­u­als who once thought there might be no relief.

Loss of Bal­ance
Many peo­ple believe loss of bal­ance and unsteadi­ness are a nat­ur­al result of aging. In fact, fear of falling is the num­ber one health con­cern of indi­vid­u­als in their lat­er years. This fear appears to not be unfound­ed as Nation­al Insti­tute of Health sta­tis­tics indi­cate bal­ance-relat­ed falls account for half of the acci­den­tal deaths in the pop­u­la­tion over 65. In addi­tion, near­ly 300,000 hip frac­tures and $3 bil­lion dol­lars in med­ical expens­es result from bal­ance-relat­ed falls every year.

Human equi­lib­ri­um is a com­plex inter­ac­tion that requires cor­rect input from the inner ear, vision and somatosen­so­ry (con­tact with the earth as per­ceived by our feet, mus­cles and joints). All three sig­nals must then be cor­rect­ly received by our cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem. Then the cere­bel­lum, which is the motor con­trol por­tion of the brain, must exe­cute the cor­rect move­ment of our mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem so we main­tain our cen­ter of grav­i­ty. If any one or sev­er­al com­po­nents of this com­pli­cat­ed sys­tem do not work prop­er­ly, then a loss of sure­foot­ed­ness or move­ment coor­di­na­tion can take place

The nat­ur­al aging process may affect any one or all of these sens­es as well as the cen­tral ner­vous system’s abil­i­ty to inter­pret and react to them quick­ly. It is very com­mon to hear from some­one who has fall­en that they saw the curb or step, but were not able to react fast enough or to keep their bal­ance.

With prop­er diag­no­sis and ther­a­peu­tic exer­cis­es, known as Bal­ance Retrain­ing, many old­er adults can return to a more active lifestyle.
Did you know?

  • Ver­ti­go, dizzi­ness or imbal­ance will affect 90 mil­lion Amer­i­cans some­time dur­ing their life­time.
  • Each year, over nine mil­lion peo­ple con­sult with their doc­tors with com­plaints of dizzi­ness, the num­ber one mal­a­dy for those over 70.
  • Bal­ance relat­ed falls account for more than one-half of the acci­den­tal deaths in the elder­ly and cause over 300,000 hip frac­tures a year in indi­vid­u­als over 65 years of age.
  • Some forms of inner ear dis­or­ders, such as Meniere’s Dis­ease, benign posi­tion­al ver­ti­go, per­i­lymph fis­tu­la, and endolym­phat­ic hydrops, have symp­toms that are vir­tu­al­ly indis­tin­guish­able to most peo­ple. Since imbal­ance and ver­ti­go can affect a person’s abil­i­ty to stand and walk, see clear­ly, read, watch tele­vi­sion, make deci­sions, and think clear­ly, these con­di­tions are often mis­di­ag­nosed as mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis and clin­i­cal depres­sion.
  • Chil­dren with treat­able vestibu­lar dis­or­ders are some­times incor­rect­ly diag­nosed as learn­ing dis­abled, dyslex­ic, or psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly dis­turbed.
  • Blows to the head and whiplash are fre­quent caus­es of dizzi­ness.
  • Ear infec­tions, such as oti­tis media, can also lead to vestibu­lar dis­or­ders.

Audi­gy Group is proud to part­ner with The Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Bal­ance™ for the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of pro­fes­sion­als, devel­op­ment of clin­i­cal pro­to­cols and con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion. The Insti­tute is nation­al­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly known for its exper­tise in test­ing and reha­bil­i­ta­tion, help­ing thou­sands of patients who were told “learn to live with it” to return to nor­mal lives. The Institute’s eval­u­a­tion pro­to­cols and ther­a­py pro­grams are used by physi­cians, audi­ol­o­gists, ther­a­pists, clin­ics, and hos­pi­tals world­wide.

If you are expe­ri­enc­ing some of these symp­toms, our audi­ol­o­gy staff can per­form ini­tial test­ing to deter­mine whether or not the symp­toms are relat­ed to a hear­ing prob­lem and if nec­es­sary refer you to an appro­pri­ate spe­cial­ist.

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