Balance problems are serious and should not be ignored. They can be indications of many medical problems such as an inner ear infection or the first signs of a degenerative condition such as muscular dystrophy. People suffering from balance problems are constantly in danger of falling when walking, working, driving or doing other daily activities.
People of any age can experience balance problems. Fortunately, many causes of balance problems are treatable. Homes may need to be modified to help the person keep their balance if they have a chronic problem like spinal stenosis.
There seems to be as many symptoms of balance problems as there are people who suffer from them.
Some people suddenly feel weak or dizzy when doing normal activities. Some people have balance problems combined with other symptoms such as severe headaches and nausea. Some people sitting down feel as if the room is spinning or that they may uncontrollably fall out of their chair. People stumble or bump into immovable objects when they feel off-balance. These falls can cause injuries ranging from simple bruises to bone fractures.
A number of medical conditions can cause poor balance. Some of them include cervical spondylosis, arthritis, vertebrobasilar circulatory disorders, peripheral neuropathy, middle ear infections, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, brain cancer, Guillain-Barre syndrome, beriberi (vitamin B deficiency), and multiple sclerosis (MS). It could also be acoustic neuroma, persistent postural-perceptual dizziness, vestibular neuritis, or Meniere’s disease.
Post-concussion syndrome, skull fractures, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), Legionnaires disease, acute mountain sickness, neuroblastoma, stroke, and intracerebral hemorrhage could all be underlying reasons for balance problems.
Usually, when your balance is off, it means one of the systems in your body isn’t working properly. If you’re having balance problems, it may be an issue with your muscular system, vision, inner ear, or proprioception (awareness of your own body position).
Balance problems are secondary symptoms that cannot be managed unless the primary cause is treated. Going to a doctor is a must in order to get a proper diagnosis that helps get effective treatment. Patients need a doctor’s physical exam, going over of the patient’s medical history and history of close relatives with balance or neurological problems and may need diagnostic tests like ultrasound or MRIs to rule out tumors or birth defects.
Balance problems caused by middle ear problems often respond to medication, talk therapy, exercises that can be done at home and if all else fails, surgery. Canes, walkers and rollators help people with balance issues stay mobile safely.
Homes can be modified to help keep people with balance problems on their feet. Extra hand grips for the bathroom and non-slip rugs help prevent slips. Another railing can help people go up and down stairs, so that they can grip each railing with one hand. Carpets or bedspreads with long fringes should be removed because they are easy to snag toes on.
You can prevent balance problems by staying active. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle keeps your muscles flexible and strong, as well as your heart and lungs. Manage any diseases or conditions you might have and talk to your doctor if you think any medications you’re taking may be affecting your balance.
Go for your yearly doctor’s appointment. Make sure that the doctor checks your hearing and vision, as this may let him know if there are any problems that could potentially be affecting your balance. Tell the doctor about any symptoms you might experience, such as lightheadedness or vision disturbances.
Many have tried physical therapy to prevent balance problems. Your physical therapist can help you to improve your balance, mobility, posture, flexibility, strength, and movement by giving you muscle strengthening exercises to do. Usually, your physical therapist will give you both standing and sitting exercises and possibly weight training exercises using exercise bands. Some exercises you could try on your own are side-stepping, one-leg stands, and heel-to-toe walking.