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Balance Disorder Symptoms

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Balance disorders are diseases that give rise to symptoms of impaired balance and co-ordination.

The balance problems are thus symptoms rather than a disease it itself. Some of the symptoms associated with balance disorders include:-

  • Dizziness or vertigo with the room appearing to be spinning.
  • There may be disorientation.
  • There is marked change and deterioration of independent walking and mobility. The gait is typically staggering as the sufferer struggles to maintain balance.
  • Some persons may have difficulty in rising from a lying or sitting position.
  • There may be an increased risk of falls or actual falls. The sufferer may also complain of a feeling of falling.
  • There is a sensation of light headedness or feeling woozy.
  • Sometimes there may be double vision or blurring of vision.
  • Nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and faintness may be seen as associated symptoms.
  • The heart rate may accelerate leading to palpitations. In addition there may be fall in blood pressure accompanied by increased sweating.
  • There may be exaggerated fear, anxiety or panic in response to disorientation.
  • Sometimes there may be symptoms of depression, fatigue and reduced concentration as well.
  • In specific balance disorders like Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) there are characteristic symptoms. These include severe and intense short episodes of dizziness associated with moving the head or even turning over in bed or sitting up from lying position.
  • In acute vestibular neuronitis, or labyrinthitis there is inflammation of the inner ear. This leads to sudden, intense vertigo persisting along with nausea and vomiting for several days. This condition leads to severe disability and mandates bed rest.
  • Meniere's disease leads to repeated sudden episodes of vertigo lasting 30 minutes or longer. This is accompanied by fluctuating hearing loss and a feeling of fullness in the ear. In addition to these symptoms there are symptoms of buzzing or ringing in the ear (tinnitus). 
  • Vestibular Migraine may present with or without severe headaches. The dizziness may last for several minutes to days. The episodes of dizziness may be brought about by quick head turns, driving or riding in a vehicle or when watching TV. In addition there may be hearing loss, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

Reviewed by , BA Hons (Cantab)

Further Reading

Last Updated: May 26, 2013

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