What To Do When Your Balance Is off Kilter
Vertigo and staggered walking, may
indicate an underlying condition.
We often attribute a stumble here and an episode of dizziness to clumsiness or at least to the list of strange occurrences in the body. But balance problems, such as vertigo and staggered walking, may indicate an underlying condition that can lead to injury if unaddressed.
Most of us assume difficulty walking is a problem faced only by our parents or folks in their golden years. But it’s not weakening bones or loss of muscle tone that give them trouble. Balance problems are often caused by problems in a certain part of the ear, called the labyrinth, which is a maze-like group of tubes and loops. This important part of the body (with an aptly cool name) maintains your body’s position and overall balance by syncing with other systems of your body, such as your bones, joints and eyes. And when the labyrinth becomes inflamed from an infection or damaged from a head injury, dizziness and problems in other parts of your body can occur, including lightheadedness and hearing issues.
We don’t have to tell you why balance is extremely important, since it’s what enables us to do basic daily activities such as climbing stairs or getting up out of a chair. Can you imagine not being able to do basic activities without worrying you’re going to fall or experience an episode of vertigo? If you’ve ever tried walking on a boat on uneasy waters, you know how difficult it can be. Not pleasant.
So how can you treat balance problems?
Since there are different types of balance disorders and a variety of different causes, diagnosis is the first step to receiving treatment.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), for example, causes you to experience sudden vertigo when you quickly move your head, such as after you get out of bed. To treat it, your doctor might have you practice a series of movements called the Epley Maneuver to fix the problem.
Another condition, known as Ménière's Disease, which has to do with a change in fluid volume in parts of the labyrinth, can be treated with a low-sodium diet change, anti-vertigo medication and antibiotics.
Unfortunately, not everyone who experiences balance problems will be able to fully relieve their dizziness and will need to adjust the way they perform their daily activities in order to make them safer. Some specific things you can do to address bouts of dizziness include:
- Changing your work conditions to make them safer
- Ensuring handrails at your home are secure
- Using a cane or walker
- Wearing walking shoes outdoors
- Not walking in the dark
Crozer-Keystone Center for Dizziness and Balance
Are you suffering from recurrent dizziness, vertigo, loss of balance, fainting or a constant feeling that you are about to faint/fall? The Center for Dizziness and Balance provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for people suffering from balance and dizziness problems. Call (610) 338-2796 to schedule an evaluation with our multidisciplinary team includes board-certified physicians.