Our ability to balance and feel steady relies on communication between our eyes, ears and brain to inform us of where our bodies are in space. If one or more of these systems is miscommunicating with the others, it results in the sensation of dizziness, vertigo or generally being off balance.
A balance disorder is a condition marked by chronic symptoms of feeling unsteady or dizzy. Even while standing, lying or sitting still, a person with a balance disorder will feel like they are moving, spinning or floating. While walking, people may feel as if they are tipping over. These disorders are caused by a disruption to the vestibular, or balance, system.
Primary symptoms include dizziness or a spinning sensation (vertigo), falling or feeling as if you are going to fall, lightheadedness, faintness, a floating sensation, blurred vision, confusion or disorientation.
Common Vestibular Disorders
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) involves brief but intense periods of vertigo that are triggered by specific changes in head position. It occurs when tiny crystals in the inner ear become dislodged and migrate to the semicircular canals.
- Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition that causes vertigo, tinnitus, fullness in the ear and fluctuating hearing loss that may eventually become permanent. Meniere’s is usually confined to one ear, and though its cause is unknown, it may be the result of abnormal fluid buildup in the inner ear.
- Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear usually caused by an infection. Its symptoms include vertigo, temporary hearing loss and tinnitus.
Call Hearing Services of Santa Barbara at (805) 967-4200 for more information or to schedule an appointment.