Balance Disorders
 
 

Balance Disorder Treatment

Have you ever suddenly felt woozy, light-headed or dizzy? It’s a strange sensation that may leave you uncomfortable or unsteady on your feet. It could also be an indication that you may have a balance disorder. At BayCare Health System, professionals with specialized training and experience are available to diagnose and treat a wide range of balance disorders.

What is a Balance Disorder?

Balance disorders often cause dizziness or unsteadiness and may interfere with performing daily tasks. They can be caused by disturbances in the inner ear or in the brain as well as other conditions or medications.

With balance disorders, accurate diagnosis is important to ensure appropriate treatment and to prevent the possibility of a fall, which could result in an injury.

Inner Ear and Balance Disorder Connection

When you are experiencing a problem with balance, it’s often the inner ear that’s the first area examined. Inside the inner ear, a maze-like organ called the labyrinth works together with other systems in the body (i.e. skeletal, etc.) to maintain balance. When the labyrinth is disturbed, it’s not uncommon for balance problems to arise.

Types of Balance Disorders

There are many different types of balance disorders. Some of the most common include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): Also known as “positional vertigo,” BPPV occurs when the head changes position, It can create a feeling of spinning when you raise your head to look at an object or move your head over one shoulder.

  • Labyrinthitis: Caused by inflammation or an infection in the inner ear, you may lose your balance or feel dizzy with labyrinthitis.

  • Ménière’s disease: A disorder of the inner ear, with Ménière’s disease, you may experience vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and fullness in the ear. Generally, it affects one ear and occurs from a fluid buildup in the ear.

  • Vestibular neuronitis: Viruses are often the cause of this balance disorder that typically results in vertigo due to inflammation of the vestibular nerve.

  • Cerebellar ataxia: A nervous disorder that causes unsteadiness and lack of coordination. Often this type of balance disorder is due to toxins in the system (excesses of alcohol), brain injury, viral infections or tumors.

  • Hereditary ataxia: A progressive disorder in which patients experience coordination problems in the legs, eye movements and arms. Over time, difficulties with other bodily functions including hearing, speech and continence may also occur.

Symptoms

Often individuals with balance disorders feel dizzy, faint or light-headed. However, some people have the sensation that they’re floating or going to fall, while still others have confusion or trouble standing and walking. Sometimes balance disorders are accompanied by nausea or vomiting (vertigo).

Diagnosis and Treatment of Balance Disorders in the Tampa Bay Area

Due to the complexity of balance disorders, a multi-disciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment is often required. Patients may be given a thorough series of highly specialized tests such as videonystagmography (VNG), which tests the inner ear and how the brain utilizes this information to maintain balance. Additionally, exams of inner ear, hearing tests, a review of medications and other assessments are given as needed.

Many times, patients can be treated without surgery, but those who do require surgery will have care provided by a team of specialists. Other treatments may involve vestibular rehabilitation, which helps the brain readjust and recalibrate to an injury, dietary changes (especially for patients with Ménière’s disease) and drug therapy which may include anti-emetics to reduce nausea and vomiting.

For more information or a physician referral, call (888) 906-8935.

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