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Normal Balance

“Why do I feel dizzy?” is the first question that most people ask when they are experiencing dizziness or imbalance. To understand your system, it is important to know that you have incredibly sophisticated, calibrated equipment inside your head, measuring where you are in space.

We have two vestibular organs inside each ear, each containing five different sections. Three semi-circular canals on each side, measure the movement of the head, as it rotates side to side; up and down; or tilting towards each shoulder. These organs relay nerve information to the vestibular and balance nuclei in the brain that are connected to our eyes. This ensures that our eyes move in equal but opposite directions to the head, keeping images stable while our heads are moving. In addition, two more structures, the saccule and utricle, provide feedback about acceleration vertically (such as when we rise from a chair) and horizontally (like when we run or drive in a car). The ears’ two organs work in tandem with each other to relay information not only to our eyes, but also to our neck and spine to keep the head and posture stable and upright.

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    Problems with Balance and Dizziness

    Diagnosis of your problem

    Finding out WHY you feel dizzy is the first step towards helping you. Feeling dizzy can make you feel disorientated, anxious or depressed. You may feel isolated and helpless, or, that no one truly understands how you feel. People have different descriptions for a problem in the balance system, such as lightheaded, dizzy, bouncy, jittery, or disorientated. These symptoms can be helped, but the problem requires a good diagnosis. This is because altered balance and dizziness can occur for very different reasons and rehabilitation will be optimized if one knows which part of the system has been affected, and what the cause is. Dizziness can occur because of illness or infection, changes to the nerve supply, changes to the blood supply, or most commonly, when a small balance stone, called an otolith, releases from its normal position and lands inside one of the balance canals. Changes to the function of certain parts of the brain can also cause balance problems. Finally, one can also experience dizziness or balance problems when the sensory feedback from the body is diminished or incorrectly interpreted by the brain, which can happen with diabetes, strokes, or other conditions that affect the sensory or motor systems of the body.

    Balance-assessment-button

    A Balance Assessment with NB Hearing seeks to understand your symptoms, triggers that make you feel worse, actions that make you feel better, and your everyday function. We perform a fully computerized assessment using specialized and calibrated tests of the balance organs, movements of your eyes, and reflexes of your neck or posture. We may also include specific movements to observe how well you are able to balance under certain conditions. Most importantly, an assessment is not painful or dangerous, and allows us to differentiate between a problem that is specific to the ears’ balance systems, or other parts of your brain or body. The diagnosis allows you to have the right treatment.

    Vestibular Rehabilitation

    Depending on the cause of your problem, getting better may require different tactics. Some problems require medication; while others require well-graded exercises to help your brain recalibrate your balance. Audiologists who work with people who have dizziness or balance problems, will use the comprehensive diagnosis to manage your treatment. Good vestibular rehabilitation training (VRT) usually helps to regain normal life function in a relatively short period of time for people who can be rehabilitated this way. We can also help you to manage the emotions that accompany a balance disorder.

    If other management is required, we will assist you to find the right person in the vestibular team, such as but not limited to, Ear Nose and Throat specialists, physiotherapists, neurologists, psychologists, optometrists.