3 Worrying Reasons You May Have Balance and Falling Issues

fall risk

Whether you have recently noticed that you have balance and falling problems or these seem to be chronic issues, you might be wondering why you have these problems and what you can do about them. Along with age, there are several other factors that may affect your balance.

Labyrinthitis

If you are experiencing vertigo, nausea, vomiting, and loss of balance, you might have labyrithitis or another inner ear disorder. With labyrinthitis, the symptoms may intensify when you move your head, sit up, roll over, or look up. In some cases, these symptoms are accompanied by a ringing in the ears, hearing loss, or a headache.

what is labyrinthitis

The symptoms of labyrinthitis may last from a few days to several months. The good news is that the condition rarely lasts for the rest of the person's life. The bad news is that there are many potential causes of labyrinthitis. For example, it can be caused by a head trauma, a bacterial or viral infection, allergies, alcohol abuse, medicines taken in high dosages, or several other things.

Even after the symptoms appear to have gone away, it is important to not assume you are fine. Your symptoms may return. Avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, and being in high places for at least a week after the symptoms have disappeared. Be honest with yourself about your symptoms. You do not want to put yourself and others at risk by doing tasks that may bring back on your vertigo or other balance issues.

Parkinson's Disease

Unfortunately, for many people with Parkinson's, their brain signals get mixed up, and they end up falling. According to information from a study conducted through the University of Stavanger in Norway, 25 percent of patients recently diagnosed Parkinson's disease suffer a fall within the first year. This percentage goes up to 70 percent for those who have lived with the disease for 16 years. Those who have fallen before are at greater risk of falling again.

Parkinson's disease info

Fortunately, there are several things people with Parkinson's disease can do to reduce their risk of falling. One of the most important first steps is to remove trip hazards around your home. This includes throw rugs, wires, loose cords, and other clutter that is on the floor. It is also important to make sure you have proper lighting in your home so you will see hazards before you trip over them. You may want to get nightlights for your bedroom, the hallway, and the bathroom so you can see if you get up in the middle of the night. Nonskid mats in the bathroom, as well as grab bars in the bath and shower, can also help to prevent falls.

If you have Parkinson's, install railings on both sides of the stairs in your home, and use both railings when going up or down the stairs. If the stairs are particularly hard to climb, arrange things in your home so you will not need to use them as frequently.

Continuing to stay active by doing simple exercises, such as tai chi or physical therapy exercises, can also help to reduce your chances of falling. If you are a someone who likes to multitask or to get things done quickly, you may need to consciously slow down. Instead of trying to walk and do something else, such as read a book, just focus on walking. It is also important to keep at least one hand free when walking. If possible, carry things in a backpack or another bag that will leave both hands free. Those with Parkinson's should lift their feet when walking; shuffling or dragging their feet will make them more likely to fall. Avoid changing directions quickly, as it may throw off your balance.

Stroke

stroke stats

While strokes can occur at any age, roughly two-thirds of those who suffer a stroke are over 65 years old. According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year over 795,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke; 130,000 of them die. Many of those who do survive deal with disabilities for the rest of their lives, including muscle weakness and diminished control over an affected leg or arm. This can lead to balance and falling problems.

Roughly 40 percent of stroke survivors have a serious fall within a year of their stroke. If you have suffered a stroke, installing grab bars, ramps, and raised toilet seats in your home can help to reduce your chances of being a statistic. Your general doctor, a physical therapist, and other medical professionals can also help you along the path to recovery.While keeping yourself safe in your home after a stroke is important, preventing a stroke is even better. Establishing healthy habits such as eating healthy, avoiding smoking, limiting your alcohol consumption, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of suffering a stroke. Those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease are also more likely to have a stroke.

Fortunately, even if you do suffer a stroke, you can reduce the risk of complications by recognizing the signs of a stroke and seeking medical attention right away. The person needs to get proper medical attention within the first three hours after the first stroke symptom appears. Some of the signs of a stroke include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, especially if focused on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing, either in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or other balance issues
  • Sudden severe headache with an unknown cause

Often, it is other people who recognize the signs of a stroke. If you suspect a friend or family member has suffered a stroke, call 9-1-1 right away. The sooner the person gets help, the better chance the person has of not suffering lasting consequences.

Of course, these are only three explanations for balance issues. If your balance issues persist or if you do not know the cause, visit a doctor right away.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/labyrinthitis/article_em.htm
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170301083706.htm
http://www.stroke.org/stroke-resources/library/movement-and-balance
http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/guide/preventing-falls#1