Have you ever felt dizzy, lightheaded, or as if the room is spinning around you? If the feeling happens often, it could be a sign of a balance problem. Balance problems can make you feel unsteady. You may also have blurred vision, confusion, and disorientation. They are one cause of falls and fall-related injuries, such as a hip fracture (broken hip).
Some balance problems are due to problems in the inner ear. Others may involve another part of the body, such as the brain or the heart. Aging, infections, head injury, certain medicines, or problems with blood circulation may also cause balance problems.
It is important to see your doctor about balance problems. They can be a sign of other health problems, such as an ear infection or a stroke. Your doctor may send you to a specialist for a diagnosis. You may need a hearing test, blood tests, or imaging studies of your head and brain. Other possible tests look at your eye movements, and how your body responds to movement.
In some cases, treating the illness that is causing the disorder will help with the balance problem. Exercises, a change in diet, and some medicines also can help.
NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
- What are the Symptoms of a Vestibular Disorder? (Vestibular Disorders Association)
- Dealing With Dizziness: Getting Help for a Balance Disorder (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Improving Balance with Tai Chi (Vestibular Disorders Association) - PDF
- Living with a Vestibular Disorder (Vestibular Disorders Association)
- Strength and Balance Exercises (American Heart Association)
- Walking (Gait), Balance, and Coordination Problems (National Multiple Sclerosis Society)
Statistics and Research
- Statistics about Hearing, Balance, Ear Infections and Deafness (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Balance Problems (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: More comprehensive proprioceptive stimulation of the hand amplifies its cortical processing.
- Article: Extracurricular sports activities modify the proprioceptive map in children aged 5-8 years.
- Article: Novel Soft Haptic Biofeedback-Pilot Study on Postural Balance and Proprioception.
- Balance Problems -- see more articles
- Balance Disorders (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Dizziness and Balance Problems in Kids: Spinning Sensations and Unsteadiness (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Balance & Aging (Vestibular Disorders Association) - PDF