Balance problems in children are most commonly due to disease of the ear itself such as glue ear.
Adults of any age can suffer from balance problems which can be continuous or episodic.
The balance system has 3 inputs from the vestibular organ in the ear, vision and receptors in the muscles and joints. The brain processes this information and sends signals to the muscles on how to move to maintain balance. Impairment of any part of this system can cause imbalance.
Common causes in adults include Benign Positional Vertigo (BPV), Viral Labyrinthitis, Migraine associated dizziness and Meniere's disease.
True vertigo is an illusion of movement in which the subject wrongly perceives they or their surroundings as moving. This may be constant or episodic and can be accompanied by a feeling of sickness or actual vomiting. Some patients have a warning before it starts and others notice it is brought on by certain positions such as turning over in bed. There may be an awareness of drifting to the side when walking or a feeling of the visual field wobbling.
Disorders such as Benign Positional Vertigo can usually be diagnosed at the initial consultation, but balance disorders can be complex and require formal balance tests and scans to get to the root of the problem. My clinic is equipped with a state of the art balance lab, unavailable in other private hospitals in the region, to enable an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Treatment is usually non-surgical and is dependent on the diagnosis. Management can involve a simple therapeutic manoeuvre as in Benign Positional Vertigo, medication, lifestyle modification and customised vestibular rehabilitation physiotherapy.