Balance Problems

Frequently Asked Questions

5. What types of balance disorders are there?

There are many types of balance disorders. Three of the most common are BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), labyrinthitis, and Meniere’s disease.

BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) is one of the most common balance disorders among older adults. With BPPV, you experience a brief, intense feeling of vertigo that occurs when you change the position of your head. You may also experience BPPV when rolling over to the left or right upon getting out of bed, or when looking up for an object on a high shelf. In BPPV, small calcium particles in the inner ear become displaced, causing dizziness. The reason the particles get displaced is not known, although it may result from an inner ear infection, head injury, or aging.

Labyrinthitis is is another type of balance disorder. The labyrinth is an organ of the inner ear that helps you maintain your balance. When the labyrinth becomes infected or swollen, it is typically accompanied by vertigo and imbalance.

Upper respiratory infections and other viral infections, and, less commonly, bacterial infections, can lead to labyrinthitis.

Ménière's disease is a balance disorder that causes

  • vertigo
  • hearing loss that comes and goes
  • tinnitus, which is a ringing or roaring in the ears
  • a feeling of fullness in the ear.

Ménière's disease can affect adults of any age. The cause is unknown.

See a fuller list of balance disorders.