In support of Balance Awareness Week, we are sharing important information on vestibular and balance disorders, provided in conjunction with the Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA).

What is a vestibular system?
The word “vestibular” refers to the inner-ear balance system. To achieve good physical balance we rely on our brain, eyes, inner-ear, and muscular-skeletal system to work in harmony. Healthy people usually take balance for granted until it is impaired.

What are typical symptoms and signs of a vestibular disorder?
The primary symptoms of a vestibular disorder include dizziness, vertigo, and disequilibrium.

What is Dizziness?
Dizziness is a sensation of lightheadedness, faintness, or unsteadiness. Vertigo is the perception of movement of the self or surrounding objects and has a rotational, spinning component. Dizziness can be a symptom of many diseases and disorders, but frequent episodes of vertigo— whether lasting
only for a few seconds or days on end— are a primary sign of vestibular dysfunction.

What is Disequilibrium?
Disequilibrium simply means unsteadiness and imbalance that is often accompanied by spatial disorientation. A person with a vestibular disorder may frequently stumble and have difficulty walking straight or turning a corner.

Other possible symptoms and signs of a vestibular disorder:
– Visual-spatial problems
– Hearing loss and/or tinnitus (i.e. ringing in the ears)
– Excessive clumsiness, including frequent falls and problems with eye-hand and eye-foot coordination
– Difficulty moving in the dark
– Difficulty reading and concentrating
– Increased levels of anxiety

If you have any of the symptoms listed above or if you’ve recently fallen, schedule a visit with your doctor and discuss your options for vestibular therapy. Treatment is covered by Medicare and most insurance companies.