Vertigo is defined as the feeling that either you or your environments are moving or spinning. Symptoms of vertigo are frequently related to the inner ear and its dysfunction. Dizziness is the most common complaint for those over 75 and a significant problem for many younger than this. Common conditions causing dizziness include BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), Vestibular Labrynthitis (inflammation), peripheral neuropathy (numbness), Ménière's disease, weakness, joint replacement, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.
The Balance System
Your body is controlled by 3 systems that work together to maintain balance:
- Vision: Your eyes tell the brain how your body is oriented in relation to walls, floors and nearby objects.
- Vestibular: “The inner ear.” Fluid-filled canals in your ear send constant information to the brain with information about speed, acceleration and position of the body
- Somatosensory: Nerve cells in your skin, muscles, tendons, and joints sense the position of your limbs and body parts. They also give you information about the surface you are standing on.
These three systems work together and allow you to quickly and accurately sense and respond to your environment. When one system provides incorrect information “dizziness” and poor balance follow.
Imbalance and Falls
Every year, more than one third of all people over 65 will fall. Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. Frequently they will limit their activity and/or start using canes/walkers. This can lead to a loss of independence and further disability. This can lead to greater weakness and more falls.