Causes and Prevention
People are more likely to have problems with balance as they get older. But age is not the only reason these problems occur; there are other causes, too. In some cases, you can help reduce your risk for certain balance problems.
Problems in the Inner Ear and Other Health Issues
Some balance disorders are caused by 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 result in a balance problem.
Video length: 4 min 20 sec
Click to watch this video
The part of the inner ear that is responsible for balance is the labyrinth. When the labyrinth becomes infected or swollen, This condition is called labyrinthitis. It is typically accompanied by vertigo and imbalance.
Upper respiratory infections and other viral infections, and, less commonly, bacterial infections, can lead to labyrinthitis.
Diseases of the circulatory system, such as stroke, can cause dizziness and other balance problems. Smoking and diabetes can increase the risk of stroke. Low blood pressure can also cause dizziness.
Problems Caused by Medications
Balance problems can also result from taking certain medications. For example, some medicines, such as those that help lower blood pressure, can make a person feel dizzy.
Ototoxic drugs are medicines that damage the inner ear. Sometimes the damage lasts only as long as you take the drug; other times it is permanent. Some antibiotics are ototoxic. If your medicine is ototoxic, you may feel off balance. Check with your doctor if you notice a problem while taking a medication. Ask if other medications can be used instead. If not, ask if the dosage can be safely reduced. Sometimes it cannot. However, your doctor will help you get the medication you need while trying to reduce unwanted side effects.
Manage Balance Problems with Diet and Lifestyle
Your diet and lifestyle can help you manage certain balance-related problems. For example, Ménière's disease, which causes vertigo and other balance and hearing problems, is linked to a change in the volume of fluid in the inner ear
By eating low-salt (low-sodium) or salt-free foods, and steering clear of caffeine and alcohol, you can make Ménière's disease symptoms less severe. Balance problems due to high blood pressure can be managed by eating less salt (less sodium), maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising.
Prevent Ear Infections
The ear infection called otitis media is common in children, but adults can get it too. You can help prevent otitis media by washing your hands frequently. Also, talk to your doctor about getting a yearly flu shot to stave off flu-related ear infections. If you still get an ear infection, see a doctor immediately before it becomes more serious.