Good balance … it’s one of the things we take for granted until something goes wrong.
Unfortunately, when things do go wrong, balance problems can be accompanied by a wide range of troubling symptoms. Feeling like the room is spinning, experiencing the discomfort of dizziness and trying to maintain equilibrium during the disorienting sensation of light-headedness – these are all symptoms that can adversely impact a person’s quality of life. In addition, those with balance-related issues may also experience blurred vision, a “floating” feeling, nausea, vomiting and panic. What’s worse, balance challenges are often accompanied by unsteadiness and the very real threat of falling.
According to the National Institute on Aging, balance-related problems are among the most common reasons that older adults see a doctor for care. It’s important to do just that because balance-related issues can be a sign of other medical conditions, including things like stroke, Meniere’s disease, anxiety, BPPV and vestibular neuritis. Traumatic brain injuries, concussions and migraine headaches can also result in, or be accompanied by, problems with balance.
A person’s balance can also be adversely impacted by the side effects of some common medications like antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, blood pressure medications, codeine, muscle relaxants and some cardiovascular medications.
When a doctor determines that rehabilitation is warranted, a physical therapist (PT) can also play an important role in helping to resolve balance problems. At times, PTs can even have a hand in helping to determine the underlying cause by identifying the specific signs and symptoms that a patient is experiencing. This process will also help to inform what types of activities the patient can perform to improve their condition, including those activities that challenge the balance centers of the body.