Dizzy….to be, or not to be?
Unknown to many people, our “equilibrium” or the “balance system” is mostly controlled by the inner ear vestibular system, which allows our brains to know which way we are turning, how to maintain our balance and visual focus as we move about our daily lives. Because the balance system is part of the inner ear, Audiologists are specialized in assessment of the vestibular system.
When someone has a problem with balance, or is “dizzy”, as assessment of the vestibular system may be included in diagnosing what the problem is. There is a long list of reasons someone may feel dizzy so the testing is important to find out if there is dysfunction of the vestibular system or nerve signal. Dizziness can be a scary experience, especially if it is severe and starts suddenly. It ca
n affect peoples ability to function normally or have to stop doing certain activities that they enjoyed, such as driving, riding a bike, or even going for a walk.
Many times people who need to have a “balance test” are nervous and afraid to do the test because they might feel dizzy. Part of the test requires people to lay down and turn their head and at the end of the test, to assess the exact function of each ear, a stream of cool and warm air is presented to the eardrum which may cause people to temporarily feel “lightheaded” or “dizzy”. Understandably, this can cause fear in people who get dizzy, but the sensation is temporary and can help find answers to the problem and get proper treatment to prevent people from falling. According to the CDC, “In 2011, about 22,900 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries”. More importantly, a balance test can help get answers, which leads to treatment to regain better quality of life.
If you, or someone you know suffers daily from fear of falling or gets dizzy and hasn’t had an assessment, let your Audiologist know so you can help get answers and improve your quality of life.