We’re willing to bet the majority of folks in Beaufort take walking for granted. It’s as natural as breathing and blinking and seeing the Patriots in the Super Bowl yet again. But moving from place to place without falling is a surprisingly complex “balancing act” – pun intended.
How the Balance System Works
Maintaining balance is important, both in dietary terms and when it comes to getting from Point A to Point B. Just as too much chocolate cake can trip up your weight loss plans, an improperly functioning balance system can cause you to trip and fall – increasing your chance of serious injury, especially as you age.
We owe proper balance to the vestibular system, which helps keep us upright, enables us to see clearly when moving and allows us to orient ourselves in relation to gravity – things that happen naturally, without any thought or effort.
It determines your direction and speed of movement and automatically adjusts your posture and stability while simultaneously coordinating movement and balance. There’s no doubt about it – the human balance system is a real workhorse!
The Vestibular System is Made up of Two Parts
- The semicircular canals, consisting of three interconnected tubes filled with endolymphatic fluid that detects rotational movement;
- The otoliths, organs that perceive linear acceleration.
Both are located in the inner ear. Along with sensory input received from the eyes, muscles and joints, the vestibular system converts this information into symmetrical impulses that are sent to the brain for processing. This allows the brain to determine factors such as position and acceleration and maintain physical balance.
Balance Disorders in Charleston
Balance disorders occur when things go awry in the vestibular system. Certain medical conditions can cause conflicting sensory information that essentially “confuses” the brain, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, nausea, headache and double vision. Common balance disorders in Beaufort include:
- Meniere’s disease
- Vestibular migraine
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
- Vestibular neuritis
These types of disorders may also cause fluctuating or permanent hearing loss, so the earlier you seek treatment, the better your long-term outcome. Your Beaufort audiologist has a number of tests they can administer to measure your vestibular functionality. Results will be used to formulate a treatment plan designed to keep you on your feet!