Balance Disorders, Diagnosis and Treatment
Balance disorders have a variety of causes and a thorough balance history, bedside assessment and balance tests are required to determine the likely cause of your difficulties.
It is natural to be concerned about having a balance disorder. Not only can you have symptoms of vertigo and nausea, you will find there are now restrictions on your mobility. The uncertainty this causes creates anxiety and stress at the worst possible time. Finding an answer and a way forward can reduce the burden you feel and return optimism to your life.
Fortunately, most balance disorders can be either treated or managed sufficiently to help give you back your confidence and a return to a more normal life. The vast majority of balance disorders are what we call “peripheral” arising from problems in the balance organ. Central balance disorders are very rare. In this section we are focused on discussing the more common peripheral balance disorders.
Vertigo (BPPV) is a common balance disorder that causes sensations of vertigo when the head is moved in particular directions.
This conditional can be debilitating as you cannot always predict when you will be enveloped with an intense spinning motion. Your ability to drive can be restricted as head turns to check behind and to the side can invoke dizziness impairing your capacity to react in traffic as you normally would. If you are involved in work that requires physical movement of goods then bending, reaching up and turning carrying a load can have serious consequences if you become suddenly dizzy and fall
Classical symptoms are of a vertiginous sensation upon rolling over in bed, laying back in bed or on looking upwards and turning the head. Fortunately, the condition is easily diagnosed and can be treated within one or two sessions.
Another common balance disorder is that of Vestibular Migraine. Migraine affects approximately 5% of men and up to 16% of women with subgroups of these populations suffering balance disturbance. Once diagnosed advice can be provided as to how the condition can be managed. ACE audiology is happy to assist in your balance assessment. A thorough history, including family history, can help differentiate Vestibular Migraine from other balance disorders along with negative findings on other balance related tests.
This is an acute disturbance to the vestibular nerve or balance organs, often related to a viral infection or reactivation of a dormant virus in the vestibular nerve. There is a period of intense vertigo for approximately 24 hours before central compensation takes affect diminishing the impact. Frequently patients end up in the emergency room and can be admitted such is the severity of their imbalance.
Often permanent damage has been caused however the remaining balance organ and central compensation usually relieves symptoms over several days or more. A balance assessment can benefit in determining which semicircular canals and otolith organs have been affected and to the extent of damage that has occurred.
This is a collection of symptoms lumped into a Syndrome. It is often also known as endolymphatic hydrops. Symptoms are usually episodic lasting for .5 hr to 24 hours during which time nausea and imbalance are intense. Audiology can assist in diagnosis and thus assist the medical practitioners treat the disorder. As Meniere’s Syndrome impacts hearing it leaves a characteristic trace and a hearing test is necessary as part of the balance assessment.
The good news is that for most people with a balance disorder is that your condition is quite likely to improve with appropriate identification as to its cause and application of suitable treatment.
ACE Audiology Melbourne would be delighted to be of assistance.