All Posts Tagged: dizziness

How To Control Your Balance

Balance is something most of us don’t think about every day. It is one function that we take for granted, but something that is essential. Walking, bending over, driving a car, walking from grass to concrete, getting up in the middle of the night, work related or leisure activities all require balance. Balance problems will increase your risk for fall, interrupt your attention span, cause your sleep patterns to be off, and cause fatigue. Fatigue alone can cause a vast range of other physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness or sleepiness
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • sore or aching muscles
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability

The Balance Control Process

Balance is the ability to maintain the body’s center of mass. A properly functioning balance system allows humans to see clearly while moving, identify the space around them, determine direction and speed of movement, and make adjustments to maintain posture and stability in various conditions and activities.

A complex set of sensorimotor control systems that include sensory input from vision (sight), proprioception (touch), and the vestibular system (inner ear and spatial orientation) to maintain balance. Injury, disease, certain drugs, or the aging process can affect one or more of these components. In addition, there may also be psychological factors that impair our sense of balance.

Maintaining balance depends on information received from the eyes, muscles and joints, and vestibular organs ( in each ear includes the utricle, saccule, and three semicircular canals. The utricle and saccule detect gravity (information in a vertical orientation) and linear movement). We rely on our feet and joints to tell us if the surface we are standing on is uneven or moving. We rely on our eyes to tell us if the environment around us is moving or still. And we rely on our inner ears to tell us if we are upright or leaning, or standing still or moving.

Loss of Balance Control

When our ‘auto-pilot’ for balance is disrupted, you may not realize the loss of balance. Our senses of touch, sight, and inner ear motion sensors work together with the brain. When these senses are not communicating with the brain, there is confusion and a sense of falling that is not so. Causes of balance problems include medications, ear infection, 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. Many balance disorders start suddenly and with no obvious cause.

The most common causes of loss of balance are:

  1. Positional vertigo: 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 that causes dizziness and loss of balance.
  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.
  4. Vestibular neuronitis: An inflammation of the vestibular nerve that can be caused by a virus, and primarily causes vertigo.
  5. Perilymph fistula: A leakage of inner ear fluid into the middle ear.
  6. Mal de Debarquement syndrome (MdDS): A feeling of continuously rocking, swaying, or bobbing, typically after an ocean cruise or other sea travel, or even after prolonged running on a treadmill.

Is Balance Disorder inevitable in Aging Adults?

Balance disorders are common in older adults and are a major cause of falls in this population. This often leads to injury, disability, loss of independence, and limited quality of life They are associated with reduced level of function. Common causes include arthritis and high blood pressure; however, balance disorders involve multiple contributing factors. Most changes are related to underlying medical conditions and should not be considered an inevitable consequence of aging. Persons who demonstrate unsteadiness require further assessment, usually with a physical therapist, to explain impairments and related functional limitations. Effective options for patients with balance disorders include exercise and physical therapy and will help them not lose their independence.

Identifying and treating balance disorders

  • Is there a feeling of unsteadiness?
  • Is there is a room spinning sensation?
  • Is there a feeling as if sitting on a boat
  • Is there a feeling as if one is about to fall
  • Is there blurred vision?
  • Is there a sensation of being about to pass out?

The first thing a doctor will do to treat balance disorder is to determine if your dizziness is caused by a a medical condition or medication. Your doctor may also prescribe Physical Therapy. The Physical Therapist will perform motion, strength, coordination, visual tracing, and balance tests to assess your overall physical ability. They will also collaborate with your physical or other healthcare professionals to rule out underlying conditions and help create a plan of care to help get your balance back.

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Top 5 Secrets Revealed To Minimizing Your Risk of Falling

Daily activities require bending, reaching and turning, and shifting your weight as you stand up or sit
down or walking. When you have unstable joints or weak muscles, activities may place too big of a
demand on your brain causing dizziness. By assessing your daily life activities that cause you discomfort
or dizziness, you can begin to minimize your risk of falling.

Follow these steps to lower your risk of falling:

  • Staying active can help you feel better, improve your balance, and make your legs stronger
  • Exercises that improve your balance can help prevent falls
  • Make your legs stronger. Do strengthening activities at least 2 days a week
  • Work with a Physical Therapist to create a plan of care to restore your sense of balance
  1. Find out if you have a balance problem. See a doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions.
    Once that is done, find a Physical Therapist who will work with you and create an exercise program that
    is tailored to your physical abilities. By following this program, you will strengthen your body and
    decrease the disruptions with your balance.
  2. Safety and prevention is key. You don’t want to restrict your activities or create a sense of inability to
    live your life, but you should avoid activities that put you at risk, such as standing on a chair to change a
    light bulb. You should also be aware of the activities that require you to live your life and approach
    them with caution, such as rising quickly from a lying or seated position to standing or bending down too
    fast. Ironically, inactivity can increase your risk for falling by decreasing your ability to react to sudden
    changes in the environment. Maintaining strength and flexibility, you will increase your coordination
    and help you maintain your balance in a variety of conditions.
  3. Take charge of your physical condition as you age. It is inevitable that physical limitations will occur as
    we age, but if we take charge of this by exercising regularly and getting physicals, you will keep some of
    the physical limitations at bay. Maintain your vision with regular eye exams, always find out the side
    effects of any medication you take (prescription or over the counter), and speak with your Physical
    Therapist on how to reduce your risk of falling.
  4. Reduce environmental risks by keeping your home free of clutter, loose cords, area rugs, and any
    obstacles. Keep your home well lit by installing switches at both entrances into a room. Use night lights,
    and add additional lighting to staircases. Install handrails on staircases and in the bathroom and bathtub
    area. The majority of falls occur in the home. If you are unsure if you have assessed your home
    completely, you can make an appointment to have a home safety inspection.
  5. Don’t wait to take action if you are having balance issues. Do not wait until you have fallen. Be
    honest with yourself if you are experiencing balance problems. Get your balance assessment with your
    Physical Therapist to nip any issues causing the problem. Prevention is the best medicine, and catching
    something early is key to recovery. Talk to the doctor about whether it is safe to drive, and if you need a
    cane to help steady you to avoid a fall.
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Common Myths About Dizziness

We have all experienced dizziness at one time or another, and we certainly wonder why. Dizzy spells cannot only be uncomfortable, but they can be scary as to the uncertainty of why we are experiencing them. Occasional dizziness in adults in quite common. The sensation of “feeling dizzy” is different for every individual. Most people will equate the feeling of dizziness to that of when you spun around as a child. Vertigo is related to feeling dizzy, but it is a much more serious condition that makes you feel as though the room is spinning as you stand still. Vertigo is also common affecting nearly 40 percent of people over the age of 40 at least once in a lifetime. A key difference is that vertigo can cause nausea and vomiting. Dizziness makes you feel unbalanced momentarily, and dizzy spells can range from mild to debilitating.

Dizziness is one of the most common patient complaints reported to doctors.

Dizzy spells can also be caused by BPPV, which stands for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This is caused by the calcium and protein sensing crystals located in your inner ear to become dislodged and float into your inner ear canals. This will cause a brief spinning sensation. This can be corrected with Physical Therapy and not surgery. This affects 1 in 1,000 people per year. It primarily affects older adults, but it has been linked to trauma, inner ear infections, diabetes, migraines and osteoporosis. After Physical Therapy, a patient may experience a reoccurrence within five years.

Our inner ear balance system contributes to the control of our blood flow, so when we move too quickly from laying down to standing, the inner ear detects gravity, directs our blood flow to accommodate that change in position, and when that goes awry, it may cause dizziness.
Low Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin to several neurological problems including a decreased blood flow to the brain, low blood pressure, and that feeling of being off balance. Low B12 is easy to treat but often overlooked as a symptom of dizziness.

Anxiety is another factor in feeling dizziness. When you experience dizziness from anxiety, it is not your ‘spinning’ dizziness, but it is more of a feeling of being ‘out or sorts’ with visual disturbances that creates your feeling of dizziness. Many people do not want to hear that anxiety causes this for fear of it ‘being in their head’, but it may be a combination of the dizzy feeling causing fear of the unknown or it just might be in your head – your inner ear.

Mild dehydration can cause dizziness because your blood pressure drops which leads to dizzy spells or a feeling of being light-headed. It can also be a side effect of medication. There are less common causes of dizziness that are rare that should be addressed by your doctor if your dizziness continues.

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