Balance problems, dizziness, dizziness: symptoms and causes


Balance issues can make you feel dizzy, like the room is spinning, unstable, or you feel dizzy. You may feel like you are going to fall. These sensations can occur whether you are lying down, sitting or standing.

Many bodily systems including muscles, bones, joints, vision, balance organ of the inner ear, nerves, heart and blood vessels must function normally for you to have normal balance. When these systems aren’t working well, you can experience balance problems.

Many medical conditions can lead to balance problems. However, most balance problems result from problems with the inner ear organ responsible for balance (vestibular system).

Signs and symptoms of balance problems:

  • Feeling of movement or rotation (vertigo)
  • Feeling weak or dizzy (presyncope)

  • Loss of balance or unsteadiness
  • Feeling of floating or dizziness

  • Changes in vision, such as blurring
  • Confusion

Causes of balance problems

Balance problems can be caused by several different conditions. The cause of balance problems is usually related to the specific sign or symptom.

Sense of motion or rotation (vertigo)

Vertigo can be associated in particular with:

– Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV occurs when calcium crystals in the inner ear, which help control balance, become dislodged from their normal position and move elsewhere in the inner ear. BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo in adults. You may feel like you are turning in your bed or tilting your head back to look up.

– Ménière’s disease. In addition to sudden and severe dizziness, Ménière’s disease can cause fluctuating hearing loss and buzzing, ringing, or an unpleasant sensation in the ear. The cause of Ménière’s disease is not fully known. Ménière’s disease is rare and usually develops in people between the ages of 20 to 40 years.

– Migraine. Dizziness and tenderness to move (vestibular migraine) can occur due to migraine headaches. Migraine is a common cause of vertigo.

– Acoustic neuroma. This slow-growing, non-cancerous (benign) tumor grows on a nerve that affects hearing and balance. You may feel dizzy or lose your balance, but the most common symptoms are hearing loss and ringing in the ears. Acoustic neuroma is a rare condition.

– Vestibular neuritis. This inflammatory disorder, possibly caused by a virus, can affect the nerves in the part of the inner ear that is in balance. Symptoms are often severe and persistent, and include nausea and difficulty walking. Symptoms may last for several days and gradually improve without treatment.

– Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Also known as herpes zoster oticus, this syndrome occurs when a shingles-like infection affects the facial, auditory, and vestibular nerves near one of your ears. You may experience dizziness, ear pain, facial weakness and hearing loss.

-Head injury. You may feel dizzy from a concussion or other head injury.

– Motion sickness. You may experience dizziness in boats, cars, and airplanes, or while riding in amusement parks. Motion sickness is common in migraine sufferers.

-Persistent postural and perceptual dizziness. This disorder frequently occurs with other types of vertigo. Symptoms include unsteadiness or a feeling of movement in the head. Symptoms often worsen when watching moving objects, reading, or when in a visually complex environment such as a shopping mall.

Feeling faint or lightheaded

Dizziness may be associated with:

– Orthostatic hypotension (postural hypotension). Getting up or sitting down too quickly can cause some people to experience a significant drop in blood pressure, leading to presyncope.

-Cardiovascular disease. Abnormal heart rhythm (cardiac arrhythmia), narrowed or blocked blood vessels, thickening of the heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), or decreased blood volume can reduce blood flow and cause presyncope.

Loss of balance or instability

Loss of balance when walking, or feeling unbalanced, can be the consequence of:

Vestibular problems. Abnormalities of the inner ear can cause a floating or heavy head feeling, and unsteadiness in the dark.

– Nerve damage in the legs (peripheral neuropathy). These lesions can cause difficulty in walking.

– Joint, muscle or visual problems. Muscle weakness and unstable joints can contribute to your loss of balance. Difficulties with vision can also lead to instability.

– Medications. Loss of balance or unsteadiness can be a side effect of medications.

– Certain neurological conditions. These include cervical spondylosis and Parkinson’s disease.


Dizziness or lightheadedness may result from:

– Inner ear problems. Abnormalities of the vestibular system may cause a feeling of floating or other false sensation of movement.

– Psychiatric disorders. Depression (major depressive disorder), anxiety and other psychiatric disorders can cause dizziness.

– Abnormally rapid breathing (hyperventilation). This condition often accompanies anxiety disorders and can cause dizziness.

– Medications. Dizziness can be a side effect of medication.

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