With the help of experienced hearing and balance specialists, it is often possible to significantly improve your symptoms and quality of life.

Balance Testing and Therapy in Greenville, SC

by | Oct 6, 2022 | Balance, Patient Resources

Vertigo is a common balance disorder that can often be treated successfully. Depending on the cause of your vertigo, your doctor may recommend balance testing and/or therapy.

Balance testing can help identify the root of your problem and determine the best treatment plan for you. Therapy can help improve your balance and quality of life.

As Greenville and Upstate South Carolina’s leading balance specialists, we have the experience and knowledge needed to treat balance issues. Below, we’ll go into more depth about what balance testing and therapy entail.

How to Recognize a Balance Disorder

One way to tell if you have a balance disorder is if you feel unsteady when you stand up or walk. You may feel like you are going to fall, or like the room is spinning around you.

Other symptoms of a balance disorder can include feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous. Some people also experience visual disturbances, such as blurred vision or double vision, eye twitching, or pulsing.

The feeling of being off-kilter or that everything is spinning can be consistent or happen randomly.

How Common Are Balance Disorders?

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 8.4% of people in the United States suffer from some form of balance disorder, and it’s estimated that about 30% of people will experience some form of balance disorder in their lifetime.

However, the prevalence of balance disorders can vary depending on a person’s age and health condition. For example, adults over the age of 50 are more likely to experience balance disorders than younger adults. This is partly due to the aging of the inner ear, which can lead to a decline in balance function.

People with certain health conditions, such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease, are also at an increased risk of developing a balance disorder. Also, balance disorders are almost twice as common in women.

The most common type of balance issue is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Other types of balance disorders include Ménière’s disease, vestibular neuritis, and labyrinthitis. Each type can range in severity from mild to disabling.

What Causes a Balance Disorder?

Balance can be affected when there is a problem with the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerves. These organs work together to help you keep your balance.

Some of these causes are:

  • Calcium crystals called otoconia sometimes move out of the inner ear into the semicircular canals, which changes the delicate fluid levels in the ear, causing dizziness.
  • An inner ear infection.
  • Meniere’s disease, which is a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to episodes of vertigo.
  • If you have had surgery on your inner ear, have a neurologic condition, or get vestibular migraines.

Other potential causes include:

  • head injuries,
  • certain medications,
  • travel sickness,
  • aging, and
  • allergies

Sometimes, the exact cause of a balance disorder is unknown.

If you think you may have a balance disorder, it’s important to see a doctor or hearing professional for a diagnosis and treatment, especially when it can lead to falls. There are many effective treatments available that can help improve your symptoms and quality of life.

Feeling Dizzy and Need it to Stop? Schedule a Consultation with a Balance Expert.

What to Expect from a Balance Test

During a balance test, a series of simple maneuvers are used to assess a person’s sense of balance. These maneuvers can be done standing or sitting, and they often involve changing positions or moving the head.

There are several different types of balance tests, but they all generally involve observing how well a person can maintain their balance during different activities.

  • Static balance tests are often used to assess a person’s ability to stand still without falling. One common test used to assess balance is simply standing with your feet together and your eyes closed. If you can maintain your balance for 20 seconds, you will likely be considered to have a normal balance. However, if you sway during the test, it may be an indication of a balance disorder.
  • Eye movement tests: Your eyes will be open and closed during the tests so that we can see how well you can keep your balance with both visual and non-visual cues. We also use a combination of small cameras and electrodes to record your eye movements during these tests, as your eyes are good indicators of your sense of balance.
    • The rotary chair test involves sitting in a chair that spins and swivels very slowly.
    • You might stand on a platform (with a harness on) that changes in position and movement.
    • We assess your reaction time when presented with a potential fall hazard.
    • We measure your eyes’ reaction speed to certain head movements.
  • Muscle contraction tests: Vestibular function tests specifically target the inner ear, which is responsible for balance. We place sensors around your neck, forehead, and eyes to assess muscular responses to sounds.

The tests used to diagnose a balance disorder can vary depending on the suspected cause of the problem. For example, if a vestibular disorder is suspected, we might do tests that assess the function of your inner ear and surrounding nerves.

The results of the tests can help to determine the cause of the balance problem and the best course of treatment.

Balance Treatment Options Available at Upstate Hearing Aid Center

The most common treatment option for BPPV consists of about three visits to reposition the misplaced otoconia or crystals in your inner ears.

Many balance disorders can be treated with vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) – a type of physical therapy that uses exercises to help your brain learn to use information from your vestibular system (inner ear) and visual system to control your eye movements and balance.

Balance disorders can often be effectively treated with medication, lifestyle changes, or physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct a problem with the inner ear or other parts of the vestibular system. However, nonsurgical treatment methods are more the norm.

Ultimately, the best treatment approach for a balance disorder will vary depending on the underlying cause.

Get Help for a Balance Disorder in Greenville, SC

With the help of our experienced hearing specialists, it is often possible to significantly improve your symptoms and quality of life.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, know that a consultation with an Upstate Hearing audiologist who specializes in treating balance disorders can help diagnose the issue and provide treatment options.

At our clinic, we offer a variety of services to help patients achieve balance and improve their quality of life. If you would like more information or wish to book an appointment, please fill out our contact form or call us at (864) 999-0261.

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Daniel Hewson, M.S. Audiology/Owner

Born and raised in Western New York, Dan Hewson comes to our practice with over 25 years of experience in the field. With a master’s degree in audiology from SUNY Fredonia, Mr. Hewson has extensive experience working in several of the largest Otolaryngology practices in the country, and also as a Regional Manager with Siemens Medical Audiology Division. Father, husband and full time employee with us, Dan is currently a student working to earn his doctorate in audiology. Dan was naturally attracted to the field of audiology because he grew up with moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss. He has followed hearing aid development, research and rehabilitation. If you want to know what hearing impairment is really about and how hearing devices can change your life, Dan Hewson is the one to ask. He’s been wearing hearing aids since childhood (44 years) and has an intimate understanding of the hearing impaired. His personal hearing device story is fascinating and illuminating for anyone, but especially for those who may be hesitant about the hearing rehabilitation process.

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