The American Hearing Research Foundation will present a free, day-long educational symposium on dizziness and balance disorders on Saturday, April 6 at the Hilton Suites Chicago/Oakbrook in Oakbrook, Illinois. Balance disorders are often poorly understood by both patients and primary care physicians, and can have a serious impact on quality of life.
Balance disorders like vertigo, Meniere's disease, and others affect as many as 35% of adults age 40 and older in the United States—approximately 69 million Americans, according to a recent epidemiological study. Symptoms of chronic dizziness or imbalance can have a profound impact on quality of life and can affect the ability to perform basic activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or simply getting around inside the home. Driving can become impossible for some people.
The symposium will feature nine physician experts speaking on various aspects of balance disorders from diagnosis to treatment and therapies that may be available in the near future.
The symposium was initiated by the AHRF because balance disorders are so poorly understood in general. "Many people are unaware that there even is a balance system with its structures located in the inner ear next to the hearing system," says David Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and chairman of the balance disorders symposium. "With doctor visits shorter than ever and with little time for longer explanations with the patient about what might be going on, the AHRF felt that a full day of learning about balance disorders from experts in the field would be a very valuable program offering," Dr. Friedland said.
Amanda Sheldrake is foreign services officer in her late 30s living in Ottawa, Canada. She first started experiencing symptoms of vertigo and dizziness with severe nausea while based in Washington DC in 2004. She saw several doctors and tried medications and therapies with varying success, but her symptoms continue to come and go. "We still don't have any answers as to why this happened to me," says Amanda. "I never took ototoxic medications, I never had a head injury or an accident. Living with a balance disorder is frustrating for so many reasons, one of them is that I might not know why this started."
Amanda found out about the AHRF Symposium on Dizziness & Balance Disorders through the Vestibular Disorders Association (www.vestibular.org), and signed up to attend. "I'm interested in the event so I can talk to other people with balance disorders and hear about current research." She also says that most of her information has come from articles online. She's looking forward to the opportunity to talk to experts on balance disorders at the AHRF event.
The symposium at a glance: