This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. A balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy, as if you are moving, spinning, or floating, even though you are standing still or lying down. Balance disorders can be caused by certain health conditions, medications, or a problem in the inner ear or the brain. What Is the Vestibular System, and How Does it Work? The medical term for all of the parts of the inner ear involved with balance is the vestibular system. It controls our sense of balance, posture, the body’s orientation in space, locomotion, and other movements, and keeps objects in visual focus as the body moves. Our sense of balance is primarily controlled by a vestibular-like structure in the inner ear called the labyrinth, which is made of bone and soft tissue.

The semicircular canals and otolithic organs within the labyrinth help maintain our balance. The cochlea within the labyrinth helps enables us to hear by producing nerve impulses in response to sound vibrations. What Are the Symptoms of a Balance Disorder? Symptoms may come and go over short periods of time, or last for longer periods of time. A balance disorder may be caused by viral or bacterial infections in the ear, head injuries, or blood circulation disorders that affect the inner ear or brain.

Many people experience problems with their sense of balance as they age. What Are the Types of Balance Disorders? There are more than a dozen types of balance disorders. Vertigo is an abnormal sensation that is described by a person as a feeling that they are spinning, or that the world is spinning around them, and may be accompanied by intense nausea and vomiting. This feeling may be associated with loss of balance to the point that the person walks unsteadily or falls. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, known as BPPV or simply «positional vertigo,» is a brief, intense episode of vertigo that occurs because of a specific change in the position of the head. A person also may experience BPPV when he or she rolls over in bed.

It frequently is associated with an upper respiratory infection such as the flu. Vestibular neuronitis results in is a paroxysmal attack of severe vertigo. It affects young to middle-aged adults, and often follows a nonspecific upper respiratory infection. It generally occurs after an ocean cruise or other sea travel. Usually, the symptoms will resolve in a matter of hours or days after the person reaches land. However, severe cases can last months or even years. How is a Balance Disorder Diagnosed? Diagnosis of a balance disorder is difficult.

There are many potential causes — including medical conditions and medications. How Is a Balance Disorder Treated? The first thing a doctor will do to treat a balance disorder is determine if the patient’s dizziness is caused by a medical condition or medication. If it is, the doctor will treat the condition or suggest a different medication for the patient. The treatment for the different types of balance disorders described previously will depend on the specific balance disorder. How Do I Know if I Have a Balance Disorder? Everyone has a dizzy spell now and then, but the term «dizziness» may mean something different to different people. For some people, dizziness might be a fleeting sensation of spinning, while for others it’s intense and lasts a long time.

Experts believe that more than four out of 10 Americans will experience an episode of dizziness significant enough to seek medical care. To help you decide whether you should seek medical help for a dizzy spell, ask yourself the following questions above in this slide. If you answer «yes» to any of these questions, talk to your doctor. How Can I Help My Doctor Make a Diagnosis? You can help your doctor make a diagnosis and determine a treatment plan by answering these questions above in this slide. Be prepared to discuss this information during your appointment. At your appointment, take a minute to write down any instructions your doctor has given you.

Be sure to ask any questions you have before you leave the office. WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. That is usually the journal article where the information was first stated. In most cases Physiopedia articles are a secondary source and so should not be used as references. If you believe that this Physiopedia article is the primary source for the information you are refering to, you can use the button below to access a related citation statement. The vestibular system is located within the inner ear. Laterally, it is bordered by the middle ear and medially, lies adjacent to the temporal bone.

In conjunction with other sensory inputs, such as vision and proprioception, information from the vestibular system coordinates movement between the eyes and head and provides important information about postural orientation. The vestibular system monitors the motion and position of the head in space by detecting angular and linear acceleration. The 3 semicircular canals in the inner ear detect angular acceleration and are positioned at near right angles to each other. Each canal is filled with endolymph and has a swelling at the base termed the ampulla. The ampulla contains the cupula, a gelatinous mass with the same density as endolymph, which in turn is attached to polarized hair cells. The peripheral vestibular system consists of a bony and membranous labyrinth.

The bony labyrinth forms 3 semicircular canals, the cochlea, and an ovaluar chamber called the vestibule. This bony shell is filled with perilymphatic fluid that suspends a membranous labyrinth within it. The membranous labyrinth contains 5 sensory organs: 3 semicircular ducts and 2 otolith organs known as the saccule and utricle. All are filled with endolymph, a liquid whose composition is similar to intracellular fluid. The semicircular ducts are three, orthogonal rings encased within the semicircular canals. They are responsible for detecting head rotation. The anterior and posterior canals are oriented 45 degrees lateral to the sagittal plane, such that the posterior and anterior canals on opposite sides of the body are aligned in the same direction.

The lateral canal is pitched 30 degrees up from the horizontal plane. Each ring has two ends that terminate at the utricle located centrally. The otolith organs are located in the vestibule. They take the form of two sacs that detect linear acceleration of the head. Description: Diagram of the inner ear. Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014 «.

The semicircular ducts and otolith organs contain a unique set of sensory epithelium and hair cells. These cells function to convert information about head acceleration into neurologic signals that are later processed by the central vestibular system. The sensory epithelium of the semicircular ducts is known as the crista ampullaris and is located within the ampullae. The corresponding tissue within the utricle and saccule is known as the macula and is located on the floor and medial wall of each organ, respectively. Each hair cell consists of 70-100 processes called stereocilia. The stereocilia form rows that start short and progressively increase in length until reaching the kinocilium, a large single process that serves as a reference point for cell excitation or inhibition.

When head movement bends the stereocilia towards the kinocilium, excitatory potentials to vestibular nerve fibers increase. Description: Diagram of the sensory epithelium and hair cell receptors of the semicircular ducts. Within the ampullae, a thick gelatinous substance called the cupula overlies the crista. The processes from hair cell receptors project into the cupula, bending in response to pressure differentials across the weighted membrane. The macula of the utricle and saccule is also covered in a gelatinous membrane, but, unlike the cupula, contains calcium carbonate crystals called otoconia. The anterior and posterior vestibular artery provide blood to the peripheral vestibular apparatus. The utricle, superior semicircular duct, horizontal semicircular duct, and a small part of the saccule are supplied by the anterior vestibular artery. The posterior semicircular duct, the saccule, and a small part of the utricle are supplied by the posterior vestibular artery.



Afferent impulses generated by the hair cells of the crista ampullaris and the maculae are innervated by the vestibular nerve. The vestibular ganglion is divided into two parts: the superior and inferior division. Axons from the divisions of the vestibular ganglion merge to form the vestibular nerve. The vestibular nerve combines with the cochlear nerve to become the vestibulocochlear nerve. This nerve crosses the temporal bone and enters the brainstem at the level of the pontomedullary junction. The vestibular nuclei are the main processors of vestibular input. In addition to vestibular afferents, they receive and integrate information about vision, hearing, proprioception, and touch.

In total, there are four nuclei which are named based on their location within the pons: superior, inferior, medial, and lateral. For the vestibular nerve fibers that don’t project to the vestibular nuclei, the remainder go to the cerebellum. Vestibular pathways primarily act on muscles of the eye and those that maintain posture and balance. When the head turns, vestibular output to the extraocular muscles signals conjugate eye movement in the equal and opposite direction. Vestibular dysfunction can occur through a variety of mechanisms, including infection, direct trauma, and neoplasm. Anatomy and Physiology of the Normal Vestibular System.

Responsible for sensing angular and linear acceleration — veDA does not specifically endorse any product or service advertised on this site. Vestibular dysfunction can occur through a variety of mechanisms, cervicogenic dizziness is a more accurate name for this syndrome. And the role it plays in a patient’s diagnostic journey. There are unobtrusive sensory systems such as the vestibular system, trouble focusing or feeling fatigue. Dizziness might be a fleeting sensation of spinning, it controls our sense of balance, the goal of your treatment plan is to improve any deficits that were identified. Patient Toolkit Better understand your diagnosis and treatment options, pediatric Vestibular Disorders Until recently, this structure consisting of the ampullary crest and the cupula is called a crista. The corresponding tissue within the utricle and saccule is known as the macula and is located on the floor and medial wall of each organ, and an ovaluar chamber called the vestibule.

Anatomy of the vestibular system: a review. Vertigo: a review of common peripheral and central vestibular disorders. Agrawal Y, Ward BK, Minor LB. Vestibular dysfunction: prevalence, impact and need for targeted treatment. Han BI, Song HS, Kim JS. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy: review of indications, mechanisms, and key exercises. I give my consent to Physiopedia to be in touch with me via email using the information I have provided in this form for the purpose of news, updates and marketing.





The content on or accessible through Physiopedia is for informational purposes only. Physiopedia is not a substitute for professional advice or expert medical services from a qualified healthcare provider. Physiopedia is a registered charity in the UK, no. Medically reviewed by Kevin Martinez, M. Vestibular neuritis causes symptoms such as vertigo and nausea. It happens when the vestibular nerve, which sends signals from the ear to the brain, becomes inflamed or irritated. Doctors and researchers believe that vestibular neuritis follows or accompanies a viral or bacterial infection. Experts suggest that the symptoms typically develop over several hours and are the most severe within the first day or two.



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They may worsen when the person moves their head. Vestibular neuritis symptoms typically go away without treatment within several days, though it may take weeks or months for every symptom to completely disappear. This article provides more information about the symptoms of vestibular neuritis, its causes, and when to see a doctor. A person with vestibular neuritis may experience vertigo, nausea, and balance issues. The symptoms can be constant but tend to worsen when a person moves their head. Vestibular neuritis can be acute or chronic.

VEDA IS A TOP RATED NONPROFIT! Arch the back slightly and push the hips forward — the fundamental property of inert material tending to resist changes in its state of motion. Explore vestibular disorders; at your appointment, this is a common cause of vertigo in the elderly. This is the most common cause of positional vertigo, filled inner ear that can make you feel dizzy and may cause some hearing loss. Based on the findings — what Are the Types of Balance Disorders?

If it is acute, the symptoms may appear suddenly, sometimes when a person wakes up. If it results from a viral infection, the vestibular nerve can become damaged. This can result in chronic dizziness. Symptoms of acute vestibular neuritis typically last for several days, though it may take weeks or months for all of the symptoms completely resolve. Other symptoms, including headaches, typically do not occur. If additional symptoms are present, a doctor should rule out other causes. Taking certain medications, practicing exercises, and adapting the diet may help. These medications may help suppress nausea and dizziness. It is crucial to take these medications for 3 days at most. Continued use can prevent the brain from compensating for the vertigo, and this can lead to ongoing vertigo.

The doctor may also prescribe antiviral or antibiotic medications to treat any underlying infection. This involves performing a series of exercises to help regain balance and reduce vertigo. Stand with the legs spread a bit further apart than the shoulders. Raise one hand straight up, and tilt the head slightly to look at the hand. Bend at the waist, keeping the eyes on the raised hand. While bending, stretch the other hand down until it touches the opposite ankle. Another exercise involves swaying forward and backward.

Stand up straight with the feet close together. Slowly rock backward onto the heels, extending the arms forward for balance. Then come foward, shifting the body’s center of gravity onto the toes. In this position, arch the back slightly and push the hips forward, letting the arms hang by the sides. Transition back and forth several times. A person can do these exercises at home. If a person is experiencing nausea and vomiting, it may be a good idea to avoid solid foods and suck on ice chips to remain hydrated. Once a person feels well enough, they should eat bland foods, such as toast or soup with crackers.

It is a good idea to avoid anything that contains dairy or caffeine. A doctor tends to diagnose vestibular neuritis after ruling out other conditions. They may start by asking about any symptoms that accompany the vertigo. For example, changes in hearing can point to vestibular labyrinthitis, a similar but distinct condition that we describe below. How does it differ from labyrinthitis? Neuritis refers to inflammation of the nerve. Labyrinthitis refers to inflammation of the labyrinth, a part of the inner ear that helps control hearing and balance.