Through our sense of balance we can control our postures and movements. Responsible for this is the organ of balance, which is very sophisticated and complex by nature, but perhaps very sensitive for that very reason: it can be upset by certain triggers or diseases, causing a balance disorder or dizziness.
A balance disorder can have a negative impact on an individual’s quality of life. People who deal with balance disorders and dizziness more often or even permanently often have concerns about going out the door alone, driving a car or riding a bicycle – because they are afraid that discomfort and dizziness attacks may occur unexpectedly.
You can find help from Dr. med. Kathrin Ernst. The ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist is also an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of balance disorders and dizziness. You will find her practice at Mommesenstr. 28 in Berlin Charlottenburg Wilmdersdorf – directly opposite Hindemithplatz.
One speaks of a balance disorder when someone loses control over posture and movement. It is an expression of a person’s orientation disorder in space.
The disorder can manifest itself through various symptoms: Dizziness, nausea, visual disturbances, malaise, unsteadiness of gait. Affected individuals often no longer succeed in standing on one leg or walking in a straight line with their eyes closed. Some people feel as if the room is spinning. Others feel as if they are falling or flying upwards.
To understand how the feeling of vertigo or a balance disorder can occur, let’s explain how the sense of balance and the vestibular organ work in the body. The organ of balance (vestibular organ) is located in the inner ear. It consists of the annular arcades and cavities called atrial sacs. Both the semicircular canals and the atrial sacs each contain small hairs and a fluid. When the patient lays his head to one side, the fluid shifts, the hairs tilt, register the movement and transmit the signal to the brain via the nerves. To evaluate the information, the brain also consults vision, for example. If the signals from the eye and the inner ear do not match, the patient becomes dizzy and, as a result, balance is disturbed.
A balance disorder does not necessarily have to have something to do with a disease. It can also be harmless and occur, for example, in completely healthy people as part of motion sickness or altitude vertigo. Here, the balance disorder is more a matter of hypersensitivity and a reaction to, for example, stronger waves on a boat or ship.
Diseases of the vestibular organ
In some cases, a direct disease or disorder of the vestibular organ can also be identified as the cause of balance disorders. This can be, for example, Meniere’s disease, an inner ear inflammation, diseases of the arcades, an inflammation of the vestibular nerves, benign positional vertigo or a tumor. In some cases, medications also have an unfavorable effect on the organ of balance. In all of the above cases, communication between the vestibular organ and the brain is impaired.
Diseases and disorders of other organs
Dizziness can also be triggered by disorders, diseases or injuries affecting other organs. These then manifest themselves with balance disorders as a symptom. Possible causes include metabolic disorders, hypoglycemia, high or low blood pressure, lack of fluids, sunstroke and heat stroke, head injuries, meningitis, circulatory disorders in the brain or nerve diseases.
Even though balance disorders can be harmless, they are often an alarm signal from the body – similar to pain. The body is telling you that something is literally out of balance.
If the balance disorders persist for a long time or return again and again, you should make an appointment with Dr. Ernst in her ENT practice in Berlin to clarify the causes. This should be done especially if other complaints such as nausea and vomiting accompany it. Because caution: Especially in old age, a balance disorder can bring an increased risk of falls.
For diagnosis, Dr. Ernst takes a medical history: Using a special questionnaire, she can assess where the balance disorder may come from. For this purpose, you should describe the symptoms as well as the temporal sequence or trigger factors known to them as precisely as possible.
The suspected diagnosis is checked or confirmed or ruled out by a physical examination. Furthermore, additional examination procedures can be used to assess the patient’s sense of balance (e.g., positioning test, coordination tests, nystagmus test with Frenzel glasses, posturography, examination of the vestibular organ).
How a balance disorder can be treated depends on the cause. It is always important to treat the underlying disease. Homeopathic and herbal medicines or other drugs can be administered for treatment. Positioning maneuvers, physiotherapeutic measures and certain physical exercises can also be used. Sometimes surgical intervention may also be necessary.
Do you have balance disorder? Make your appointment now with Dr. med. Kathrin Ernst, specialist for ear, nose and throat medicine.
Appointments by telephone arrangement, also outside our consultation hours: 030.310 138 40
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