A balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy. If you are standing, sitting, or lying down, you might feel as if you are moving, spinning, or floating. When you are walking, you may feel as if you will fall.

Overview and Symptoms

Symptoms of a balance disorder may include:

  • Dizziness or a sensation you are spinning sensation
  • Falling or feeling as if you are going to fall
  • Lightheadedness, faintness, or a floating sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion or disorientation

There are many causes to balance disorders, such as medications, ear infections, a head injury, or anything other factors that affect the inner ear or brain. Low blood pressure can lead to dizziness when you stand up too quickly, and problems such as arthritis or imbalanced eye muscles can also cause balance disorders. Your risk of having balance problems increases as you get older. Many balance disorders can start suddenly and with no obvious cause.

Common balance disorders include:

  • Vertigo: a spinning sensation
  • Labyrinthitis: an infection or inflammation of the inner ear
  • Ménière's disease: a change in fluid within parts of the inner ear
  • Vestibular neuronitis: an inflammation of a nerve in the ear that is usually caused by a virus
  • Perilymph fistula: when fluid leaks from the inner ear fluid to the middle ear
An otolaryngologist, who specializes in disorders of the ears, nose and throat, may recommend a hearing examination, blood tests, an electronystagmogram (a test that measures eye movements and the muscles that control them), or imaging studies of your head and brain. Another possible test is called posturography, in which you stand on a special movable platform in front of a patterned screen. The doctor measures how your body responds to movement of the platform, the patterned screen, or both.


Treatment for balance disorders depends upon the type of balance disorder diagnosed, symptoms, medical history and general health, a physical examination, and diagnostic test results.

Treatment methods can include:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Changes in Diet
  • Counseling
  • Medication
  • Surgery

Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery

We provide a range of comprehensive services, including state-of-the-art evaluation, advanced, multidisciplinary treatment, and follow-up care for patients with ear, nose, throat disorders; voice and swallowing disorders; and cancers and non-malignant conditions of the head and neck.

Learn More

Gerontology (Senior Health)

Whether you are a healthy and active 65-year-old or an adult caring for a parent with complex medical issues, our multi-disciplinary team is specially trained in the physical, mental and emotional challenges of aging, and is here to help you manage a wide range of health conditions that can happen later in life.

Learn More