What is a Vestibular Disorder?
Many people complain of dizziness, vertigo, unsteadiness, and balance problems.
There are a number of causes that can contribute to these symptoms, but a large percentage are caused by a problem with part of the inner ear and the brain that helps control balance and eye movements. This is known as the vestibular system. If disease or injury damages this system, a vestibular disorder can result.
What Causes Vestibular Disorders?
Vestibular disorders are common and can affect people of all ages and all walks of life. They are most often caused by:
- Head trauma (car accidents, falls, impact sports)
- Ear infections
- Illness or disease
- Stroke and/or brain injury
Symptoms of Vestibular Disorder
Symptoms can range from mild dizziness and unsteadiness, to severe vertigo; and can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, to months, or even years.
Other symptoms include:
- A spinning sensation
- Difficulty reading or concentrating
- Poor balance
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to bright lights and noises
- Poor tolerance of crowds
Are there Treatment Options?
Fortunately, vestibular rehabilitation can help. Treatment for vestibular disorders will vary according to diagnosis. Vestibular rehabilitation is a drug-free approach involving specific exercises to improve balance function, decrease dizziness, symptoms, and increase general activity levels.
Your program may include one or more of the following:
- Balance retraining exercises
- Specific vestibular exercises
- Supervised therapy sessions to monitor progress and continually challenge the vestibular, visual, and balance systems
- Repositioning manoeuvre for BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), a condition where crystals are caught in the inner ear
How Long Does Treatment Take?
The durating of a course of vestibular therapy depends on the diagnosis. For example, dizziness due to an inner ear problem may take only 1 or 2 sessions, whereas imbalance related to aging may require 8-12 sessions spread over 2-3 months.