Dizziness is one of the most common complaints people bring to their doctors–its estimated that up to 40% of adults experience dizziness severe enough to report it to a physician. It is also one of the most difficult complaints to assess as it is a highly subjective sensation and may be caused by several overlapping pathophysiological processes which invariably result in balance problems. It is therefore important to recognise the different signs that could indicate a balance problem to ensure timely and appropriate intervention.
Common signs of balance problems
Dizziness often occurs with other symptoms. If you experience any of the following symptoms alongside your dizziness, it is worth getting a balance evaluation:
CAUSES OF BALANCE PROBLEMS
Although balance impairment may arise from a whole host of different health disorders and bodily systems, deficits in the inner ear balance system, otherwise known as the vestibular system, are often found to be involved. The following diseases/ disorders linked to the vestibular system commonly lead to balance impairment:
Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo (BPPV)
The most common cause of vertigo. It is caused by misplaced calcium crystals in the vestibular system and results in short bursts of dizziness provoked specifically by head movements.
Caused by viral inflammation of the vestibular nerve leading to dizziness and imbalance.
Viral or bacterial inflammation of the inner ear nerves leading to dizziness and hearing loss.
Damage to vestibular organs that leads to imbalance and anxiety.
Head injuries may cause damage to the structures in the vestibular system leading to dizziness and imbalance.
Can cause permanent damage to the vestibular system, typically resulting in imbalance, hearing loss and tinnitus. These include some types of chemotherapy drugs.
A progressive condition caused by inner ear fluid imbalance leading to attacks of dizziness, tinnitus, pressure in ears and increasing hearing loss.
Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome
An anatomical change/ thinning in the bone overlying the vestibular end organ that leads to aural fullness, tinnitus, and sound/ pressure induced dizziness.
Caused by temporary changes in brain activity that leads to motion intolerance, dizziness and visual disturbance.
Our sense of balance is intricately connected to mechanisms of the ears, eyes, brain, muscles and nerves throughout the body. Diagnosing balance disorders is therefore a complex process, typically involving a battery of tests. Our experts will begin an evaluation by initially taking a detailed medical history and performing a physical examination. They will then run a series of tests in order to determine the nature and severity of any underlying balance impairment. These tests primarily focus on recording and analysing eye movements that are generated by the vestibular (inner ear balance) system and central nervous system–which both play primary roles in a healthy functioning balance system on the whole.