The feelings of wooziness, unsteadiness, and a sensation of faintness affects us all. The difficulty with balance is often felt in the morning upon awakening due to prescription medications, a lack of coffee, or as a result of too many alcoholic beverages. However, dizziness and balance problems can also indicate underlying problems related to ear infections, head injuries, and circulation disorders. In fact, dizziness is a prime reason that people make appointments with health providers.
Our sense of balance is dependent upon a series of signals sent to the brain by organs and structures that comprise the vestibular system. Numerous experts believe that four out of ten people will experience an episode of dizziness severe enough for medical attention at some point in their lives. The causes of dizziness and balance disorders can include infections, head injury, a blood circulation disorder that affects the brain or inner ear, medications, and aging. There are four general categories of balance disorders:
Difficulty maintaining orientation occurs when a person’s balance is affected. Some of the major symptoms of a balance disorder include:
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, faintness, anxiety, panic, and changes in blood pressure may also signal a balance problem. Disorientation may also occur with certain disorders. Cognitive disorders such as disorientation may affect memory and object recognition as well.
Dizziness and balance disorders are difficult to diagnose due to the variety of types and numerous other conditions and medications that contribute to balance problems. A primary care physician will obtain a medical history and a physical exam. If needed, a referral to an ear doctor for a hearing exam, blood tests, and audiology tests aids in the diagnosis process.
Of course, the treatment of dizziness and balance problems depends on the diagnosis. Some of the standard treatments for these type of disorders include the following:
There is much research regarding balance disorders. Investigators continue working to understand the various disorders and the interactions involving the brain and the other balance-sensing organs to prevent falls and other injuries related to balance problems. If you are feeling dizzy and it is not related to sleep or a night on the town, contact your primary care physician for an examination today.