Directory:Tell Me About Senior Health/Balance/Balance Problems Treatment and Research

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Balance Problems Treatment and Research

Your doctor can recommend strategies to help reduce the effects of a balance disorder. Scientists are studying ways to develop new, more effective methods to treat and prevent balance disorders.

Balance disorders can be signs of other health problems, such as an ear infection, stroke, or multiple sclerosis. In some cases, you can help treat a balance disorder by seeking medical treatment for the illness that is causing the disorder.

Some exercises help make up for a balance disorder by moving the head and body in certain ways. The exercises are developed especially for a patient by a professional who understands the balance system and its relationship with other systems in the body.

In benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, small calcium stones in the inner ear become displaced, causing a person to feel dizzy. An otolaryngologist can treat BPPV by carefully moving the head and torso to dislodge these stones.

Ménière's disease is caused by changes in fluid volumes in the inner ear. People with Ménière's disease can help reduce its dizzying effects by lowering the amount of sodium, or salt, in their diets. Limiting alcohol or caffeine also may be helpful.

Some antibiotics, such as gentamicin, also are used to treat Ménière's disease. Although these antibiotics can help reduce the dizziness that occurs with Ménière's disease, they can also result in permanent hearing loss. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve a balance disorder.

Scientists are working to understand the complex interactions between the part of the inner ear responsible for balance and the brain. They are also studying the effectiveness of certain exercises as a treatment option for balance disorders.

In 1998, Senator John Glenn, who was 77 years old at the time, took part in a study sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute on Aging, and NASA on how well a person recovers balance after returning from the weightlessness of space.

Data collected during the mission may help explain how a person recovers from a balance disorder. It may also help researchers develop ways to prevent injury from balance-related falls as people grow older.

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The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

Copyright Information: Public domain information with acknowledgement given to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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Directory:Tell Me About Senior Health Balance Problems