Balance is achieved when several body systems work together properly – the eyes (visual system), ears (vestibular system) and the body’s sensory nerves – which send messages to your brain regarding body movements and positions.
Unfortunately, every year, millions of Americans experience problems with their balance. In fact, up to 70% of adults will experience balance problems during their lifetime. Feeling lightheaded, dizzy or that their head or the room is spinning may be experienced. Symptoms often vary in frequency, intensity and duration. Some even have a fear of falling. Additional symptoms may include:
- Hearing Loss
- Ringing in the Ears
- Unusual Eye Movement
- Blurred Vision
- Sweating, Nausea, Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Confusion / Disorientation
- Difficulty Speaking
- Fear, Anxiety or Panic
A chronic balance disorder refers to an inability for the brain to read signals from your senses. For those with vertigo, the brain miscommunication exists, but in relation to motion – as if their surroundings were moving. Unfortunately, if left untreated, balance problems can become a potentially disabling condition.
What are some causes of dizziness or a balance disorder?
People are often concerned as to why they feel off-balance and whether it will get worse. There are numerous factors or causes:
- Neck Dysfunction: Spinal subluxation.
- Slip and Fall Injury: In the US, more than $20 billion is spent treating injuries and conditions associated with falls due to balance disorders! A major or even a slight injury may be the cause of a balance disorder. A minor injury, which produced a feeling of lightheaded and resolved itself, has now resurfaced.
- Automobile Accident Injury: The upper cervical area of the spine is often affected when auto injuries are sustained. If the atlas – first bone in the neck is injured, pressure and stress on the nerve that controls the inner ear may result. This can then result in dizziness or a vertigo condition.
- BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) – Caused by a rapid change in head movement (injury or turning over in bed).
- Inner Ear Problem – Viral or bacterial infection of the ear – such as Labyrinthitis (vestibular neuritis) or Ménière’s disease (an excess build-up of fluid in the inner ear).
- Vestibular Migraines – Episodes of dizziness can last a few seconds to a full day, and are more common in women than men.
- Poor Circulation – Your heart may not be pumping enough blood to your brain. This could be due to a drop in blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension) or poor blood circulation due to heart related conditions (heart attack, heart arrhythmia, etc).
- Anemia – Low iron levels.
- Hypoglycemia – Low blood sugar.
- Dehydration – If you are not drinking enough fluids (water) or are very active in hot weather, you may become overheated and dehydrated.
- Nutritional Deficiency – Low B12 may be linked to dizziness.
- Underlying Illness: Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.
- Emotional Stress – Panic Attacks and Anxiety.
- Hormonal Imbalance – Menopause and pre-menopause.
- Aging – A degenerative progression of the inner ear.
- Medications – May include certain antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, sedatives and blood pressure medication.
Drug-Free Balance and Vertigo Treatment
If you are experiencing symptoms relating to balance or dizziness, it is vital to rule out any serious underlying medical conditions – such as an infection, cardiovascular or neurological disease. Additionally, speak with your Doctor or Pharmacist regarding medications and side-effects. Once these have been ruled out, alternative therapies can be explored.
The first step when seeking relief from this often disabling condition is to detect the cause or causes of dizziness or poor balance – in order to make an accurate diagnosis and create an effective treatment program. “Learning to live with it” or taking medication is not the approach we take. Our treatment options include:
- Chiropractic – For those experiencing dizziness and balance problems, chiropractic is an excellent treatment option – one without the risks associated with medications or surgery. This treatment becomes increasingly essential, especially in older patients.
If you have suffered a trauma, neurological or musculoskeletal concern, then a Chiropractor may be able to help. Utilizing specific chiropractic adjustments – misalignments are corrected and/or stimulation is provided to allow the body to heal itself. Chiropractors utilize the Epley Maneuver – which is very helpful to those experiencing vertigo, the Advanced Atlas Orthogonal Technique – to help those diagnosed with Meniere’s disease or specific Exercises – such as the Brandt-Daroff Technique to help reduce dizziness.
- Physical Therapy and Exercise – Exercise based approach, which assesses balance, strengthens postural stability and offers adaptive strategies and devices. Improving balance in elderly, as well as people of all ages, has been achieved with active and passive physical therapy treatment options.
- Acupuncture – According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, dizziness is the result of various imbalances – such as an excessive accumulation of phlegm or blood stagnation. It may be caused as a result of poor organ functions and obstruction of energy flow. In addition, it may be caused by emotional factors, such as panic attacks. To treat the symptoms, very thin, sterilized, disposable needles are inserted at specific acupoints into the skin.
- Healthy and Balanced Diet – Consuming a balanced diet can help restore hormone levels that are contributing to symptoms. Protein, vegetables (peas, beans, asparagus), healthy fats (walnuts, almonds) and supplements – Vitamin B (liver), Niacin, Potassium and Iron (spinach) may be recommended (based upon a patient’s health history and diagnostic testing). In addition to a healthy diet, eating every 3 – 4 hours may prevent a drop in blood sugar levels.
It is vital to stay hydrated. You may want to reduce or eliminate alcohol (neurotoxin) and caffeine, which may influence dehydration. Hot and/or spicy food may make increase symptoms of dizziness.
There are many lifestyle recommendations, which are offered at our Clinic when seeking vertigo treatment or dizziness prevention tips. These are provided on an individual basis and range from wearing low-heeled shoes or walking shoes, using assistive devices, placing handrails in the home and to avoid walking in poorly lighted rooms.
Improving balance in elderly, providing dizziness prevention strategies and helping everyone live a full and active life without pain, are the goals of our Healthcare Team at AIMS Clinic. Call us today to learn more about balance at (732) 254-5553.