Often the loss of balance (which can involve “weaving,” falling, or needing to suddenly hold on to furniture or the wall), is caused by vertigo or dizziness. A person may have more than one condition, including adverse effects of prescription and non-prescription medications, blood pressure or heart problems, peripheral neuropathy, deconditioning, seizure disorder, normal pressure hydrocephalus, or neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s.
Vertigo is the perception that the person or room is spinning. Sometimes it is described as a rocking sensation. Dizziness is a broader category which can include lightheadedness or change in vision. A large number of illnesses or conditions can cause dizziness or vertigo. Most are benign except that the person may become disoriented and fall.
A wide range of medical illnesses can cause or aggravate vertigo or dizziness. Many problems are simple and relatively benign, such as sinus congestion or benign positional vertigo. Among other causes can be labyrinthitis (an inflammation of the inner ear) or, rarely, a structural problem in the brain, such as a tumor. Dizziness can indicate a problem with the heart or blood vessels.
One in three older people have a fall each year, but fewer than half of them tell their doctor. Most often the fall that leads to an injury is not the first fall. So even if your fall was “nothing much,” it is good to mention it to your doctor. You will benefit from a thorough history, physical examination, and appropriate testing.
The treatment depends on the cause. Sometimes a medication adjustment or a simple office procedure called canalith repositioning can be effective. Physical, occupational and vestibular therapy are an important part of the treatment plan. In this office, we work closely with several therapists, or you are welcome to find a therapist near your home. When the condition is chronic, modifying your environment can be useful. It is better physically and emotionally to be confident than to reduce activity.
We accept most major medical insurance plans. Here is a short-list of just some of the most popular plans we accept. Please contact our office and ask for Jody if you do not see your insurance provider listed.