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Dizziness/Balance

Disorders

Overview

 

A sense of balance is what allows you independence and freedom to engage in your daily activities with ease. Normal balance requires the combination of muscle strength and three sensory systems operating normally: the visual, the vestibular (located in the inner ear) and the somatosensory (sensations from the skin, joints, muscles and tendons). When these systems fail to function properly, balance problems begin to occur. 

 

While up to 8 million Americans suffer from some type of balance problem, the most common condition is chronic dizziness, which affects a reported 2.4 million Americans alone. Those over the age of 65 must also consider the risks associated with the possibility of falling due to balance problems and what impacts a fall will have on their health. Living with a fear of falling, prevents many individuals from engaging in the activities they once enjoyed and greatly limits everyday life satisfaction. The vast majority of balance disorders are treatable, and therefore it is important to contact your medical specialist when signs of balance disorders do appear. 

Definition

 

Having good balance is the ability to control and uphold the position of your body when you are both at rest and moving around. A balance disorder is a problem in which the sense of balance is disrupted and a person reports feeling unsteady, dizzy or has sensations of spinning, moving or floating. Aging may lead to many balance problems with estimates that up to 40% of people over the age of 65 will fall each year due to balance complications. 

 

Causes

 

Majority of balance disorders are the result of problems with an important organ in the inner ear called the labyrinth. The labyrinth contains semicircular fluid filled, canals, which usually let us know if we are in motion and about the direction and speed of our heads rotation. When these systems of the inner ear are not working properly, balance becomes disrupted. This type of balance disorder characterized by a disturbance in the labyrinth is referred to as a Peripheral Vestibular Disorder. 

 

Some common causes of Vestibular Disorders include:

• Viral infections of labyrinth (labyrinthitis)

• Bacterial infection of the middle ear (Otitis Media)

• Allergies

• Head trauma

• Exposure to ototoxins (drugs or chemicals harmful to the middle ear)

• Aging

Common Types
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

The most common balance disorder is known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV. BPPV is characterized by brief yet intense episodes of vertigo (dizziness). This vertigo occurs due to a change in the position of your head. You may experience vertigo upon getting out of bed in the morning as you are roll over to your right or left side. According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, an estimated 20% of all dizziness is a result of BPPV. The cause of each individual case of BPPV may or may not be able to be possible to determine, however Dr. Michael Sherbin can offer you the finest testing and effective treatment options during an office visit. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of balance disorders affect your orientation to and interaction with your environment. Walking around may become difficult when a room seems to be “spinning,” and attempts to stand after long periods of rest may gradually begin to reveal symptoms. These symptoms may appear in short episodes or last extended periods of time. Some of the symptoms of balance disorders include:

 

• A feeling of vertigo (sense that you or your surroundings are in motion)

• Sensation of any type of dizziness

• Loss of balance

• Faintness

• Fatigue

• Difficulty concentrating

• Disorientation

• Blurred vision

• Changes in heart rate or blood pressure

• Fear or panic

Treatment

Dr. Michael Sherbin will offer testing opportunities for patients allowing us to provide you the widest variety of effective options for treatment. 

VNG TestingWe offer videonystagmography (VNG) testing, which is considered the highest standard for measuring inner ear and central motor functions. With innovative technologies, videonystagmography testing is replacing traditional electronystagmography (ENG) testing of the past. Videonystagmography testing provides more accurate and reliable results, which makes it the most advanced choice of doctors for dizziness concerns. This non-invasive testing procedure consists of a series of small tests related to eye movements, which provide information about the functionality of your inner ear balance centers, visual balance systems and other brain functions related to balance. In most cases, videonystagmography testing is not painful to the patient, lasting only about an hour and a half, and is generally tolerated very well. Because videonystagmography testing equipment is particularly sensitive, it is especially important to discuss all current medications with your doctor. Additionally, certain precautions may need to taken a number of days prior to your testing including avoiding certain medications, alcohol, aspirin and caffeine. Your doctor will discuss in detail with you an exact regimen to fallow prior to your testing. Videonystagmography testing will allow a proper, detailed diagnosis to be made addressing your balance concerns. After an appropriate diagnosis is made, Dr. Michael Sherbin will provide you with the best treatment options available for your specific condition. 

Vestibular rehabilitation can offer relief from symptoms through a carefully monitored exercise program. This program includes balance activities and exercises in head movement. Fall prevention is incorporated into vestibular rehabilitation with the goal of keeping you in an independent, yet safe lifestyle. 

Epley maneuver is yet another non-invasive, procedure option. This procedure will usually take place during an appointment and involves rotating your head in certain sequences in an effort to loosen particles trapped in the middle ear. The maneuver is an effective cure for several types of dizziness and vertigo problems. 

Medication may also be prescribed when your doctor deems it necessary.  We prioritize your individual well-being when considering treatment options for all your health concerns. Dr. Michael Sherbin will work with you to find the best treatment(s) available for your lifestyle and unique needs.