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Feeling Clumsy - Could I Have A Balance Disorder?

Published: April 15, 2010
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Im 13 and I fall over alot. When im walking I trip and stumble over my own feet. when Im standing still its like I loose my balance and fall over. Could I have an inner ear problem? Or a balance disorder? From Clumsy
Signed: Feeling Clumsy - Could I Have A Balance Disorder?

Dear Feeling Clumsy - Could I Have A Balance Disorder?,

 

TeenHealthFX cannot make any kind of diagnosis over the web in terms of why you are stumbling and losing your balance frequently. It may be that it is taking time for you to adjust to your growing body, or it may be the result of some underlying medical issue. In order to find out if there is any medical problem, and to get the proper treatment for it, you need to meet with your doctor. Explain to your parents what you have been experiencing and ask them to set up an appointment with your primary care physician or adolescent medicine specialist so that you can find out what is going on. At the very least, you could always check in with your school nurse about your symptoms and whether or not this is anything to be concerned about – and follow whatever advice she gives you.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

 

Here is some general information on balance disorders:

What is a balance disorder?

A balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy, as if you are moving, spinning, or floating even though you are standing still or lying down. These disturbances in a person’s sense of balance can be caused by inner ear, brain, vascular, and nervous system problems.

What causes balance disorders?

Normal balance requires that three sensory systems be working together. These three systems include visual, vestibular (found in the inner ear), and somatosensory (sensations from the skin, muscles, tendons and joints) – and must be used together with muscle strength for proper balance to occur. When any of these systems are not working as they should be, individuals may experience spinning, lightheadedness, trouble focusing their eyes, and/or poor balance and falls.

Balance disorders can be caused by certain health conditions, medications, or a problem in the ear or the brain. Some causes may include:

·         Viral or bacterial infections in the ear, a head injury, or blood circulation problems that affect the inner ear or brain

·         Certain medications can cause balance problems and dizziness.

·         Problems in the visual and skeletal systems, and the nervous and circulatory systems, can be the source of some posture and balance problems

·         Circulatory system disorders, such as low blood pressure, can lead to feelings of dizziness when going quickly to a standing position.

·         Problems in the skeletal or visual systems, such as arthritis or eye muscle imbalance, can also cause balance problems.

What are some common types of balance disorders?

·         Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) or positional vertigo: A brief, intense episode of vertigo that occurs because of a specific change in position of the head.

·         Labyrinthitis: An infection or inflammation of the inner ear that causes dizziness and loss of balance.

·         Meniere’s Disease: Involves a change in fluid volume within parts of the labyrinth of the ear that causes vertigo, irregular hearing loss, tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ear), and a feeling of fullness in the ear.

·         Vestibular neuronitis: Inflammation of the vestibular nerve and may be caused by a virus. Vertigo is the primary symptom.

·         Perilymph fistula: A leakage of inner ear fluid into the middle ear that causes dizziness, nausea, an unsteadiness when walking and standing that increases with activity and decreases with rest.

·         Mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS): creates a feeling of continually rocking or

bobbing that usually occurs after some kind of sea travel.

What are some symptoms associated with balance disorders?

Symptoms may come and go over short periods of time or last for longer periods of time. They can include:

·         A sensation of the room spinning

·         Staggering when you try to walk, or teetering or falling when you try to stand

·         Dizziness or vertigo (a spinning sensation)

·         Falling or feeling as if you are going to fall

·         Lightheadedness, fainting, or a floating sensation

·         Blurred vision

·         Confusion or disorientation

·         Nausea or vomiting

·         Diarrhea

·         Changes in heart rate and blood pressure

·         Some people also feel anxious, tired, depressed, or have difficulty concentrating

When should I see a doctor to find out if I may have a balance disorder?

People who experience balance problems such as episodes of spinning, periods of lightheadedness, trouble focusing the eyes on objects, double vision and/or poor balance or falls, should see their doctors.

Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any, see your doctor:

1.       Do I feel unsteady?

2.       Do I feel as if the room is spinning around me?

3.       Do I feel as if I’m moving when I know I’m sitting or standing still?

4.       Do I lose my balance and fall?

5.       Do I feel as if I’m falling?

6.       Do I feel lightheaded or as if I might faint?

7.       Do I have blurred vision?

8.       Do I ever feel disoriented, such as losing my sense of time or where I am?

How do you diagnose a balance disorder?

Your primary care physician may recommend you meet with an otolaryngologist, a physician and surgeon specializing in the ear, nose, and throat. Various tests may be required to assess the cause and extent of the problem. Hearing tests such as pure tone testing, air and bone conduction, and speech and immittance help doctors determine whether balance problems are related to problems of the inner ear. Tests may also include blood tests, electronystagmogram (measures eye movements and the muscles that control them), imaging studies of your head and brain, or posturography tests to measure how your body responds to various types of movement.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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