Dizziness Can Be a Sign of Balance Disorder

September 21, 2018

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Vicente Zapanta, M.D. contributes to topics such as Men's Health, Women's Health.

By Vicente Zapanta, M.D.

Dizziness, vertigo, and unsteadiness (disequilibrium) are all common symptoms that can result from a vestibular disorder.  Our vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process sensory information involved in controlling balance and eye movements.  If disease or injury damages these processing areas, vestibular disorders can result.  Vestibular disorders occur frequently and can affect people of any age.

Dizziness is a term used to describe a range of sensations, including feeling faint, woozy, weak or unsteady.  Dizziness that creates the false sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving is called vertigo.  Symptoms of chronic dizziness or imbalance can have a significant impact on the ability of older adults to perform normal daily activities such as bathing, dressing, or simply getting around.  Older adults may also experience long-term consequences if an existing health condition that may be causing their dizziness goes untreated.

Dizziness can increase your risk of falling and injuring yourself.  More than one in three people age 65 years or older falls each year.  The risk of falling — and fall-related problems — rises with age.  Each year, more than 1.6 million older U.S. adults go to emergency departments for fall-related injuries. And among older adults, falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths.  Most often, fall-related fractures are in the person’s hip, pelvis, spine, arm, hand, or ankle.  Hip fractures are one of the most serious types of fall injury.  They are a leading cause of injury and loss of independence among older adults.  Be sure to discuss any prolonged dizziness with your primary care provider.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), is a non-invasive, exercise-based treatment program designed to promote central nervous system compensation for inner ear deficits.  VRT can help resolve a variety of vestibular problems, including Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) and the reduced inner ear function on one or both sides associated with Meniere’s Disease, Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis.

For more information on balance disorders and free balance screening, stop by the “Solutions to Balance Problems” event September 27, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge.

Vicente Zapanta, M.D., is an otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose & Throat specialist) and director of the Center for Balance at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center.  The Center for Balance is designed specifically to help anyone with dizziness, vertigo, difficulty judging distance, people with an increased risk of falling and those who has fallen once in the past year.  The Center uses the most advanced tests to diagnose balance or dizziness disorders.  Dr. Zapanta interprets all diagnostic test results and determines customized treatment recommendations for each patient.  To make an appointment or register for the Sept. 27 event, call 732-324-5030. 

The material provided through Health Hub is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.