Balance is Key

Balance disorder is what causes you to feel unsteady, lightheaded or as if the room is spinning. 

One in three Canadians over age 65 will fall every year. Injuries from falls can change a senior’s life in ways seniors fear most—isolation and loss of independence. Understanding balance disorders and fall prevention along with knowing when to get help can go a long way toward avoiding falls and the devastating consequences that may come with it.

Someone with a balance problem may walk unsteadily, fall sideways when standing or have trouble going up or down stairs. Here are some common symptoms that go along with a balance disorder:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling as if you are going to fall
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea

The most common cause of balance disorder is a combination of factors that go along with aging. We know from studying the inner ear that the cells responsible for maintaining balance start to degenerate with age. Aging and the diseases of aging also affect vision and the bones and joints. Good balance requires that all these systems work together

Positional Vertigo

Vertigo is the false sensation of movement, usually described as spinning. The main symptom is a sudden attack of vertigo when you change your head position such as looking over your shoulder or rolling over in bed.

Labyrinthitis or Vestibular Neuronitis

The inner ear organ that controls balance is called “the labyrinth.” It is a bony structure that contains fluid and the nerve cells for balance. If this organ becomes infected or inflamed, such as from a viral upper respiratory infection, it causes vertigo and loss of balance. 

Meniere’s Disease

This is a condition in which the fluid inside the labyrinth increases. Meniere’s disease affects both balance and hearing. Symptoms include hearing loss that comes and goes, a roaring sound and a sensation of fullness in the ears and vertigo.

Other Causes

Certain types of medications, circulation problems, neurological diseases and arthritis in the neck can all be causes of a balance disorder.

If you, or a senior you love might be experiencing balance disorder please reach out to your family Doctor, you can also call Whitevalley Community Resource Centre and get help accessing resources or help with getting in touch with your Doctor.

A weekly feature for Lumby, Cherryville, and area seniors. For more information about any of the following please contact Lauralee or Jenny at (250) 547-8866 Whitevalley Community Resource Centre Office (250) 547-8866. Funding support provided by Interior Health, the Province of British Columbia (Community Gaming), United Way Southern Interior and United Way Lower Mainland.

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